"Are you prepared for a Disaster?"
The City of Universal City and other cities making up the Randolph Metro-com, along with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County, are vulnerable to many potential disasters. These include natural disasters like severe weather events including thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flash flooding; and man-made disasters like airplane crashes, hazardous materials incidents, and the potential for acts of terrorism.
In accordance with State law, the senior elected official, the county judge or mayor, are responsible for the emergency preparedness program in their jurisdiction and hold the title of Director of Emergency Management. In most cities and counties, an Emergency Management Coordinator is appointed to oversee the program.
In order to provide all of our employees and citizens with some general emergency preparedness information, this information has been prepared by the Office of Emergency Management for you. All citizens should be familiar with the emergency preparedness program in the City or County they reside in, along with potential disasters that can affect them, and any other information like shelter locations and emergency notification systems used in their community.
While this information may not answer all of your questions, it hopefully will provide you with some general guidance to develop a disaster plan for your family. Any questions pertaining to emergency preparedness should be directed to the Emergency Management Coordinator in your city. The phone numbers for the area Emergency Management Coordinators are located further below in this document.
FAMILY DISASTER PLAN
A disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you from your home or it can confine you to your home, with little time to prepare. Basic services such as water, gas, telephones, and electricity may be turned off, or might be damaged and not working. The best way to prepare for this is to have a “Family Disaster Plan” as outlined. Included is a supply listing that includes those items you should always have on hand should disaster strike. In addition, several brochures are available from the American Red Cross on family disaster planning and are available in the Bexar County Emergency management office.
In the event of a serious incident, you may be asked to evacuate your home. Under current law, the State of Texas does not have a forced evacuation law, and therefore you cannot be forced to leave your property. Staying may not be a wise choice! However, should you elect to remain, you may put yourself and your family in serious danger. Emergency personnel may not be able to enter an evacuated area due to the hazard, and therefore you may be on your own. In the event emergency personnel direct you to leave your home because of a chemical spill or other hazard, it is highly recommended that you follow their directions.
Children & Disasters
Disasters can be traumatic for many adults, but they can be devastating and frightening for our children. They are used to getting up in the morning, going to school, playing with their friends, and then going to sleep – in their own beds. A disaster can change all of that and turns their lives upside down. Parents need to provide reassurance and guidance. Keep the family together if possible, talk to your children about what happened and assure them everything will be all right. Several brochures are available on this subject and are available in the emergency management office or on line at several different web sites.
In the event an evacuation is necessary, local officials will arrange for a shelter to be opened. The location will depend on the type of emergency and the shelter available to the community. The American Red Cross has been delegated shelter management responsibilities and they enter into agreements with school districts, churches, and various other civic groups for the use of their facilities. In some cases, church groups and civic organizations have personnel trained to handle shelter duties and may even have the necessary equipment and supplies on hand.
If you have to evacuate your home, you may go to the shelter. In many cases, people tend to go to homes of relatives and friends or, in some cases, straight to a hotel. This is normal and is usually factored into a community’s evacuation/shelter plan.
In the event you go to a designated shelter, you will be asked to complete a registration form, which is used for accountability purposes. This is very important, as missing people can become a big problem following a major incident or actual disaster. Relatives begin looking for their loved ones and cannot locate them, and then they start calling the Red Cross or local officials. This is especially true once national media coverage begins. Needless to say, if you have to evacuate your home and go to a friend’s home, call a family member and let them know you are OK, and have them spread the word to other family members.
One last point! If you have to evacuate, chances are you won’t have time to pack, however, there are some essentials that you must take along. The most important items are prescription drugs and medications, any needed baby supplies, a blanket or pillow, a few small toys for the children, and maybe something to read. Also, don’t forget your wallet/purse, keys, etc. If you have extra time, pack a change of clothes for everyone, along with any other items that you consider a necessity.
Finally, before you leave your home, lock up and follow the directions of local officials in regards to turning off utilities or leaving by a certain direction.
Almost every City and County government will have shelter locations designated. The best way to find out the location in your community is to contact their emergency management office, or contact the local American Red Cross office. In and around the area, the following are some potential shelters.
| City of Universal City:
Kitty Hawk Middle School
| City of San Antonio :
There are many possible shelter locations available.
| City of Live Oak:
|| City of Marion:
Marion High School
| City of Converse:
Judson High School
| City of Cibolo:
Dobie Junior High School
| City of Kirby:
Kirby Middle School
| City of Schertz:
NOTE: Do not proceed to any shelter facility until you have been directed to a specific location by local officials.
These are just a few possible locations, and not all of them are designated as long-term facilities.
The American Red Cross will select the appropriate facility that is available, which has sufficient space. It will always depend on the nature of the emergency and it’s location. The facility must always be located out of harms way.
In addition to shelter facilities, communities may designate evacuation points to send people to, in the event of a major incident that requires immediate evacuation. The decision to do this may be made by the on-scene incident commander, before emergency management personnel have time to react to the situation. In these cases, time is critical and people must be moved out of harms way quickly with little time to open a shelter or even notify the Red Cross.
In certain types of emergencies, evacuation is not possible and it is safer for citizens to stay indoors. This practice is known as “In-Place Sheltering.” In the event this is needed, certain steps may be required at home, especially if hazardous materials are involved. They are:
Close and lock all windows and doors.
Seal gaps under doorways and windows.
Close and seal any vents.
Close fireplace dampers.
Turn off all ventilation systems.
Once you have completed these steps, stay indoors and turn on a radio or TV to listen for any further directions and to find out when it is safe to leave your home.
In place sheltering is not used often, however, when needed it is very important that you follow the instructions provided and that you stay indoors.
EMERGENCY WARNING SYSTEMS
There is currently no perfect warning system that meets all needs, however, several are being used and they vary from city to city. In general, the news media (radio and TV) is a good source that most people turn to. As such, local officials try to use the media to get emergency information out to their citizens.
In addition to the media, all cities and counties may utilize the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to issue emergency messages. In the future, all jurisdictions in this area will have the capability to use the brand new “Reverse 9-1-1 System” now being installed. In addition The City of Universal City has initiated a state-of-the-art mass notification system, Connect CTY, which allows the city officials to access citizens phones and email. Please note: if you currently have a private or unlisted phone number you will not receive any calls unless you register using the quick link on the home page of the Universal City web site.
In many cases, local officials will utilize door to door notification by police officers or fire department personnel. This method is usually used when there is an immediate need to move people quickly away from a hazard and there is little time to use any other system.
In closing, check with your local community to find out what system is being used, as they vary from city to city.
The most common hazard that we have to deal with in South Texas is severe weather, which can occur almost year round. It can range from severe thunderstorms with heavy rain, hail, high winds, even tornadoes to extreme heat and even snow and ice during the winter months. While severe weather doesn’t occur on a daily basis, we all should be prepared to deal with it when it does.
The National Weather Service Office, located at the New Braunfels Airport, has state-of-the-art NEXRAD radar, and they operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They provide weather statements and bulletins, as necessary, to all monitoring agencies, which includes all police agencies. All weather watches are broadcast by radio and TV stations, and all warning messages activate the Emergency Alert System (EAS), for the announcement.
All citizens should be familiar with these weather statements and bulletins. The two most common are Watch and Warning. A “Watch” simply means conditions are favorable for a certain type of weather to occur over the watch area during a certain time frame. On the other hand, a “Warning” means that this event is occurring now! A severe storm is moving into the area, a tornado has been sighted, or flooding is occurring.
Severe weather can be dangerous and, when it threatens, it requires our attention. The best advice is to keep abreast of current conditions when skies are threatening. Keep a radio or TV turned on and listen for any weather bulletins.
A good investment is to get a weather radio for your home. They can be purchased at many electronics stores and they allow you to monitor the weather all day long, if you like. The best feature is they will alert you to weather bulletins anytime of the day or night with an alarm tone activated by the weather service. It is best to keep it in the bedroom where you will hear the alarm go off while you are asleep. These are good investments that could save your life. Remember, severe weather is probably our biggest hazard, primarily because we have to deal with it on a regular basis.
TORNADOES AND FLOODING
These two severe weather events really don’t go hand in hand, however they both deserve mentioning. Flooding and flash flooding are serious problems in this area. Every time we have heavy rainfall, low water crossing fill up quickly and problems occur. Flash flooding accounts for more deaths then any other weather event, with most of these deaths occurring at low water crossings. The National Weather Service has come up with a new campaign and a slogan for this problem. It is “Turn Around and Don’t Drown.” It is a very simple thing to do, however many people do not follow it and many lives are lost.
If you have low water crossings near your home or if you have to travel across one on a daily basis, have an alternate route to avoid it following heavy rainfall. If water is flowing across a roadway your vehicle may or may not be able to make it across. It is very hard to judge the depth and speed of the water and it depends on what kind of vehicle you have. Best advice: “Turn Around Don’t Drown.”
Tornadoes can occur without warning, anytime we have severe thunderstorms. The weather service issues tornado watches anytime conditions are favorable, however a tornado can develop very quickly and be on the ground before a warning can be issued.
Everyone should determine the safest place in their home to take shelter, in the event a warning is issued. The best location is on the first floor of a structure in an interior area without windows. A hall closet is good, or even the hallway itself with all doors closed. You might want to avoid a closet under a stairway, as it could collapse. A hallway bathroom is another good spot. Always avoid rooms with windows and always go to the first floor. If you live in a manufactured home (mobile) you need to plan ahead and go to a safer location. Apartment dwellers need to plan ahead too. An interior closet makes a good location; however, if you live above the first floor it can be a problem. Having a plan to go to a neighbor’s apartment, on the first floor, would be a good idea.
Another tornado tip is never try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. It can move and change direction faster then you. Your best bet is to find shelter in a building or if in open country, in a drainage culvert. Getting under a highway bridge may work, however, if the tornado actually passes over the bridge, you could be pulled right out from under it.
Technological Hazards & Terrorism
While severe weather events pose a threat year around, the folks at the National Weather Service never let severe weather sneak up on us. Weather bulletins keep us informed of any potential severe weather events that threaten us. However, the same can’t be said for other types of hazards.
Throughout the Metro-com, the threat of technological hazards involving hazardous materials must be taken seriously. They could come from an airplane crash, a train derailment, a pipeline break underground, a transportation accident on the highway or any other City street. The biggest threat from these types of incidents is that no one is able to issue a watch or warning that they are about to occur. These types of incidents happen without warning and can create a serious emergency or major disaster.
How can we prepare for this type of incident? The only way to prepare for this type of emergency is to plan ahead. That goes back to having a “Family Disaster Plan” so that all members of your family know what to do in case something should occur. The first step in this process is to determine what hazards are close by. Do you live near a major roadway, railroad tracks, or do you have a company nearby that uses hazardous materials? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you could be in harms way.
The best way to determine what hazards are in your community is to visit the emergency management office in your city/county and review their hazard analysis study. This document will outline the community and all of the potential hazards. Once you know what hazards exist, you can determine what to include in your family plan.
The threat of terrorism in this country was considered remote until one day a bomb destroyed the federal building in Oklahoma City. Afterward, emergency management officials long feared another terrorist attack on the United States; and the only questions were when and where. On September 11th, 2001, we learned the answer to both questions, as well as how! Terrorism is now a household word along with the names of many groups around the world.
What is our terrorism threat level? Good question - and we really don’t have a definite answer. A few things to consider are our location being adjacent to the 9th largest City in the country – San Antonio. We have a large military presence in the area, including Randolph AFB, which sits in the middle of the Metro-com. We also have several “soft” targets in and around the area which include places like the Northeast Lakeview College, Live Oak Cinemas, Retama Park, and the Forum Shopping Center, to name a few. These places attract large crowds, which could be a target. A terrorist group or organization may want to avoid the City of San Antonio and look at the surrounding communities. Their idea would be that we are less prepared and have less security in place.
As for preparedness actions, the best tip is to keep your eyes open. If something doesn’t look right or feel right, report it to local law enforcement officials. If you see someone at a water well site or some other facility, like a CPS Energy station, who isn’t in uniform or doesn’t have an appropriate vehicle, report it. If you notice a strange vehicle or anything out of the ordinary report it.
The threat of terrorism is going to be around for some time to come and staying alert is the best way to deal with it. There is no reason to panic either, as that is exactly what terrorism is all about. If we become overly cautious and make drastic changes in our lifestyle, the terrorists have accomplished part of their mission without doing anything.
Emergency Management Offices
The following is a listing of the emergency management offices/coordinators around the area.
| City of Universal City:
Bexar County OEM
| City of Live Oak:
Emergency Management Coordinator
Lt. Matt Malone
| Bexar County:
Bexar County OEM
| Comal County:
Emergency Management Coordinator,
Note: Includes the City of New Braunfels, Garden Ridge, & Bulverde
| Guadalupe County:
Emergency Management Coordinator
| City of Converse:
Bexar County OEM
| City of Kirby:
Bexar County OEM
| City of Selma:
| City of Schertz:
| City of Seguin:
| City of Windcrest:
Police Chief Volz
Office: 210-655-0022 Ext. 2610
| City of Cibolo:
Guadalupe County Coordinator
| City of San Antonio :
| Randolph AFB:
Chief: Steven Clark
Other Important Phone Numbers
| The American Red Cross
3642 E. Houston Street
San Antonio, Texas 78219
| CPS Energy
Customer Service: 210-353-2222
Gas Emergency / Electric outage: 210-353-4357
|National Weather Service
2090 Airport Road
New Braunfels, Texas 78130
|Lone Star 811
Texas One-Call Number
Call this number before you dig to locate any
underground buried utilities.
Family Disaster Preparedness Plan
How to develop a family disaster plan
Step # 1 – Visit the Office of Emergency Management and:
Determine the potential hazards that could affect your community by reviewing their Local Hazard Mitigation Analysis Study and Mitigation Action Plan (MAP).
Learn about the City’s disaster plan, warning system(s), shelter locations, and possible evacuation routes.
Step # 2 – Prepare your Family Disaster Plan by:
Have a family meeting to discuss the potential hazards and the actions that must be taken.
Start off with fire prevention actions like posting emergency telephone numbers, install/check smoke detector(s), install/check fire extinguisher(s), have an evacuation plan and an outdoor meeting place.
Establish a second meeting place outside of your immediate neighborhood, to be used in the event you cannot get to your home. Some potential locations might be a relative/friend's home, a church, school, etc.
Designate an “out-of-state” family member/friend to be the family contact. In the event of a disaster, local telephone service can be jammed; however, long distant calls might go though.
Locate all utility shut off locations and the proper tools needed. Instruct all family members on their location and under what circumstances they should be turned off.
Consider purchasing a weather radio from an electronics store to monitor severe weather events when they threaten.
Determine “safe areas” in your home in the event of a tornado warning, or make plans to leave your home if you live in a manufactured (mobile) home.
In the event of a hazardous materials spill, learn how to make your home airtight. Some examples are closing and locking all windows and doors, turning off all ventilation devices (A/C), and sealing any gaps around vents, etc.
Insure you have one standard telephone in your home that is not cordless. If your power is out, a standard telephone will still work however most cordless phones will not.
Step # 3 – Prepare a Family Disaster Supply Kit:
In the event of a major incident or actual disaster many things can occur. You may have to evacuate your home or you may be forced to stay at home. If you have to stay at home you may be without utilities such as, water, electricity, gas, and telephone service. If staying home will be your only option, without some basic supplies on hand this will be difficult. This is where a Family Disaster Supply kit will come in handy. Use the checklist provided in this booklet in helping you set-up your supply kit.
Step # 4 – Training:
Take a basic first aid class that is available from the Red Cross or possibly from your local fire department/EMS provider.
All family members should take a CPR course that is available from various sources like the Red Cross, the American Heart Association, local ambulance companies, and local fire departments or EMS providers.
Learn how to use your fire extinguisher correctly. As a minimum, read the directions ahead of time and become familiar with the unit. Visit your local fire department as many offer classes on how to use an extinguisher.
Conduct fire drills on a regular basis with “all” family members.
Have a practice “tornado drill” as well, and insure all family members know where to go, in the event a tornado warning is issued.
Test your smoke detector(s) monthly and change the batteries whenever you change your clocks.
Step # 5 – Insurance:
Insure you have adequate insurance coverage for your home and the contents. Review your coverage annually when you renew.
If you live anywhere near or adjacent to a flood plain, or in the event your home is in a flood plain, consider purchasing flood insurance. If you are uncertain about your home's location, visit your City Hall or County Courthouse and speak to the floodplain administrator. This could be the emergency management coordinator or someone in the planning department.
If you have a business, insure your insurance coverage is adequate as well, and also verify whether your business is in a flood plain or adjacent to one.
NOTE: A regular home owners insurance policy does NOT cover flood damage that results from flood waters entering your home. You must purchase a “flood insurance policy” from a company that sells this type of insurance. Check with your insurance agent for more information.
If you have children in school(s) or at a daycare facility, inquire about their emergency plans and make sure they have one. In the event their facility must be evacuated, find out where they will be taking your children and how they will contact you. All schools have disaster plans and most daycare centers do so as well, however unless you ask, you may not know where your children are if something happens.
The Family Disaster Plan Checklist
| Determine potential disasters
|| Learn about your community warning systems
| Identify family meeting places
|| Learn about your community shelter locations
| Identify local and out of state contacts
|| Learn your community evacuation routes
| Post emergency telephone numbers
|| Learn about the schools/daycare disaster plans
| Identify utility shut off locations
|| Prepare a first aid kit
| Install/test smoke detectors
|| Plan for the family pet(s)
| Install/check fire extinguisher(s)
|| Check insurance coverage
| Conduct family fire drills
|| Take a first aid/CPR course
| Prepare an evacuation plan
|| Plan for special needs of family members
| Identify “safe areas” in the home
|| Conduct practice drills and update your plan as the family changes
| Maintain an important document file
|| Make a family disaster kit
| Prepare a disaster supply list
|| Maintain your supplies
Meeting Locations and Contacts
| Local Contact
|| Out-of-Town Contact
| Nearest Relative
| Family Work Numbers
| Family Meeting Places
Out of Neighborhood:_________________
| Other Important Numbers
DISASTER SUPPLY REQUIREMENTS
Store one (1) gallon of water per person, and maintain a three (3) day supply.
Maintain a three (3) day supply of non-perishable food per person.
Some examples are:
Ready to eat can foods like fruits, vegetables, etc.
Juice or soda
High-energy foods like crackers, cookies, peanut butter, jelly, etc.
| Tools and Equipment
Basic hand tools (Hammer, screw drivers)
Flashlights (2), with extra batteries
Portable radio, with extra batteries
Fire Extinguisher (ABC Type)
Matches (Store in water proof container)
Blankets (One per family member)
Can opener (Hand type)
Plastic garbage bags (Box)
Baby Supplies (Three (3) day supply)
Paper and pen/pencils
Warm coat (Depending on season)
Gloves (Work type)
Hand tools (Shovels, brooms, etc.)
Window covering material (Roll of heavy plastic or sheets of plywood). Note: Have some plywood cut to window size.
Portable Generator with suitable cords Note: This unit must be set-up outside so the cords are needed to run into the house.
Fuel for the generator (In proper container)
| Cooking Sources
Outdoor Grills (gas or charcoal) and fuel if needed.
Cans of Sterno
Outdoor cooking pans/pots
Grill lighter or matches
Extra pair of glasses
Extra car/house keys
Copies of important pagers sealed in plastic.
| First Aid Supplies
Prescription drugs (have a three (3) day supply on hand)
Non-prescription drugs (aspirin, etc.)
Antiseptic type spray/cream
Scissors and tweezers
Moistened napkins (package)
Note: All of these supplies can be purchased in a good quality first aid kit.
Note: An emergency first aid booklet would also be a good idea.
Important and Useful Website
| Agency or Department
|| Web Site Address
| The American Red Cross
| Bexar County Office of Emergency Management
| San Antonio Emergency Management
| The Department of Homeland Security
| The Federal Emergency Management Agency
|Texas Division of Emergency Management
| The National Weather Service
| The National Hurricane Center
| The Storm Prediction Center