WilCo issues 'shelter in place' for Florence during chlorine leak

Williamson County officials say a 250-gallon container started leaking chlorine Wednesday morning on FM 970 in Florence.

"We actually smelt chlorine in the city of Florence and that's when we started to respond to see what was actually leaking," said Robert Shelton, Chief of the Florence Volunteer Fire Department. 

Shelton says they requested HazMat for air monitoring.  He says the chlorine leaked out quickly which was actually a good thing.

"It is in the fact that it lets it go and we're done with it rather than a slow leak that we may be out of here for some time to get it contained," Shelton said.

During the cleanup, Shelton says the county sent out an automated message to Florence residents telling them about the leak on FM 970 and instructing people to "shelter in place."  Cover any gaps with towels...and turn off the A/C.

"With a chlorine leak a lot of times sheltering in place, unless it's in the immediate area, is the more appropriate thing to do rather than getting outside in it," Shelton said.

2 nearby schools with a few students and teachers there for summer activities were included in the shelter in place.  The city was given an all-clear around noon and emergency crews cleared out.

But some residents like Natalee and her neighbor Craig never heard about the incident.

"No we didn't get any notice so...no phone calls or emails or anything like that," Natalee said.

"I didn't get nothing from the city, nobody heard nothing, it was all word of mouth from the news crews," Craig said.

They say some sort of heads up would have been nice.

Williamson County officials say automated warnings like this automatically go to landlines so residents need to register their cell phones with the county if they want to recieve these messages. 

Shane Elms owns a store in downtown Florence called "The Gettin' Place."

Elms did get the phone call.

"Grabbed it and it was an automated message telling me that there was a HazMat warning in Florence that we were urged to stay inside," he said.

He says he wasn't all that worried but appreciates the precautions.

"With this much distance and dissipation in the wind speed it was probably not an issue for the town but you gotta play it safe," Elms said.

If you live in Florence and you didn't get your automated message this morning the county is urging people to register their phones with CAPCOG.  You can register here