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Thursday, May 28

Flood evacuation warnings in Texas: They did everything but send out carrier pigeons

Graphic accompanies USA TODAY's feature on KVUE-TV Austin May 28 report, Most bridges damaged in flooding are not Texas owned


"Disaster experts suggest that the heavy human toll in Texas should sound a warning to county and state emergency managers, universities, and media to not over-rely on technology in the face of disaster."

Quote is from Christian Science Monitor's in-depth report on attempts to warn Texas residents in the path of flooding to evacuate.  Yet the report makes clear that they didn't only rely on technology. Police also went from house to house, to the extent they could, to warn.  

The report is fascinating and highly instructive; I didn't know before that the US early warning system has become a model globally, which has saved countless lives.   Here is the report in its entirety. I've taken notes.  

'It's coming': Did stern Texas flood warnings go unheeded, or unheard?

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer 
May 27, 2015
Christian Science Monitor

Emergency officials in Texas sent out warnings hours before the Memorial Day weekend floods. But 21 deaths [last count, 23] have them asking what more they could or should have done.

Emergency officials in Texas are struggling with the fact that they appeared to do everything by the book – and yet 21 people are still confirmed dead from torrential Memorial Day weekend flooding.
On Wednesday, authorities performed hundreds of water rescues and searchers continued to look for 13 missing people as more rain fell across the hills and gullies of the Texas hill country, where a stubborn five-year drought has given way to full lakes and soils that can't absorb more water. More rain is in the forecast.
But on Saturday night, hours before the height of the flood, the National Weather Service was trying to get the message out in every way possible: "MOVE TO HIGHER GROUND NOW."
It pinged almost every cellphone within range of a cell tower in the warning area. It went out over television and radio. Police went door to door. But in one tragic case, 12 people in a local vacation rental reportedly got the warning only when it was delivered in person by the homeowner. By then, the flood waters had risen so high that they could not be crossed on foot. The house was swept from its pilings.

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