As storm threatens Texas, new disaster alert system is promoted

A high angle rescue team with the Austin Fire Department spends a lot of time training.

Wednesday, there was a demonstration of a rescue from a building collapse.

Dropping out of a window, dangling from the side of a high rise or a cliff is no time to second guess equipment or team members. AFD Lt. D.J. Walker made it clear that "hoping" for a safe landing is not part of the equation. "So they're in the moment, taking care of the things that arise, but they are also being prepared for the next step so whenever they get to it, the next transition, they're ready for that,” said Walker.

First responders are also preparing for the real thing, with a storm churning now in the Gulf.

The weekend forecast includes the possibility of some serious flooding.

Earlier this month, a swift water rescue team pulled two people off of a rock when storm water surged down Shoal Creek. Boats and life lines are being prepared again in San Marcos and Austin.

"We are starting off preliminary plans to staff extra boats and extra crews in the city, we've haven't roster anything yet, we’ve got back up boats ready to go out, and extra personnel we can bring into the stations  to staff these boats   to run swift water calls throughout the region,” said AFD Capt. Travis Maher.

In Williamson County a hoover craft operated by the sheriff's office and a dive team are ready to hit the water.

"They've been practicing over the Summer, They've been responding, doing those things, and we feel confident should that need arise, that they'll be ready,” said Sheriff Robert Chody.

Being prepared is not limited to responders and not limited to high water.

Just this week, a wildfire triggered evacuations near Bastrop.

It is an example of how the threat is year round and why local officials gathered to promote a campaign called Warn-Central-Texas. Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape said signing up is fast and provides emergency alerts through text messaging, e-mails and phone calls.

"These few minutes can make a difference in protecting precious property or irreplaceable lives, and so we are asking you today, and I speak on behalf of all the county Judges in our CAPCOG region, pleading with you citizens of Central Texas, register today, for Warn Central Texas, let’s be prepared for the next natural disaster,” said Judge Pape.

Organizers with  say they hope to increase the number of people who have signed up from 60, 000 to 180,000 by the end of September. For the latest hurricane updates, click here