It’s that time of year again: hurricane season, which means it’s also time for UWCA’s 2-1-1 Texas to step up their disaster response efforts.
“Day to day we get calls from people who are dealing with their own personal disaster,” says Kay Euresti Garza, Director of 2-1-1 Texas. “When a local or state incident occurs, we provide information and referral support to our neighbors in need. It’s very fulfilling and humbling to guide a caller from a state of panic, in some cases, to a state of being empowered with correct resource information.”
Hurricane Alex was the first named storm of the 2010 hurricane season making landfall south of Brownsville, Texas on June 30. During Hurricane Alex, 2-1-1 Texas expanded its hours to better serve their fellow Texans in need of disaster resource information while monitoring the situation alongside the State Operations Center (SOC). Although Hurricane Alex ultimately had little impact on Texas, federal, state, and local disaster response agencies had resources staged and ready to go, in preparation for the worst. Many of the calls 2-1-1 Texas received during Hurricane Alex were from people seeking transportation because they are either elderly, disabled, or don’t have a vehicle. One call came from Hidalgo County from a daughter who called to register her father who is confined to bed and has feeding tubes attached to his body. During a disaster, he would need an ambulance to take him to a special needs shelter. “It would be hard to forgive myself if I let something happen to him,” she said. Information from these callers is put into the Transportation Assistance Registry so that proper transportation can be provided locally in case of an evacuation.
2-1-1 Texas is a part of the Texas Information Referral Network and, during a disaster, serves as the public information gateway providing local- and state-level information on evacuation declarations and routes, shelter information, missing persons, federal, state and local assistance, and ongoing assistance and recovery. To speed callers directly to disaster-related information, a special “Option # 5” is activated and it is the first option callers hear when they call 2-1-1.
Every day in Austin, we’re working to ensure each child has access to high-quality education, every family has the tools they need to be financially stable, and health and human services are readily available for all.