WilCo teams to survey disaster preparedness in homes

Disasters in Texas can run hot, cold and wet. For many, the winter storm of 2021 remains a harsh reminder of how unforgiving the extreme weather can be.

"And I was not prepared," said Martin Ramirez.

The Cedar Park resident said in 2021, he was among those who lost power. His survival plan involved bundling up in thick layers of clothing.

"We lost quite a bit of food because I had a freezer that would never recover. I bought a generator. So now I have a generator just in case that ever happens again," said Ramirez.

The Williamson County and Cities Health District wants to know how prepared the community is. People who spoke to FOX supported the idea.

"Yeah, I think that's a good idea. I mean, it's a good use of tax dollars, I think, to get people to think about stuff because the little they spend on that is probably less than what they have to spend sending out emergency vehicles or ambulances and things like that," said Jason Stewart.

The survey essentially is a review of essentials like, what’s in the pantry, is there enough non-perishable food, are there batteries and are they still good. Blankets, water, extra toilet paper can also help a family weather a storm. 

The community checkup will take place on Friday, Oct. 21 and Saturday, Oct. 22. The neighborhoods where the surveys will take place are being selected at random. 

The project is being led by Nicole Everett, the director of Epidemiology and Emergency Preparedness at the Williamson County and City Health District. She explained how the district will use the survey information.

"So, areas that may have more vulnerable populations, areas that may need more education and outreach about how prepared they may be or may need to be in terms of, you know, of lack of a household plan or no plan for their pets," said Everett.

An outreach campaign will be launched after the information is analyzed.

"We will be asking some questions about access to medications and accessibility needs," said Everett.

The information may also be used to develop a first responder deployment strategy. Preparation of homes is another focus of the survey. Survey crews will ask homeowners about plans for insulating pipes and checking leaky faucets. A reminder to be prepared and not waiting until disaster arrives.