San Antonio Office of Emergency Management
FAQs

AlertSA

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AlertSA is a service that allows you to register to receive alerts during emergency situations.

The system will be used to notify residents and businesses about imminent threats to health and safety. Public safety officials will send alerts about emergencies such as severe flooding, chemical emergencies, or wildfires. Emergency alerts will be sent 24 hours a day based on severity.

If you don't sign up, you will still receive emergency alerts on your landline home and business phone, but nowhere else.

AlertSA is free; however, standard message and data rates may apply.

There is no impact to you receiving alerts from the system.

Landline phones may display "Emergency"; cell phones, by default, will not display a name with the incoming number. It is recommended that AlertSA users save the number 210.408.8302 in their phone, with the contact name "Emergency".

The system is only as good as the information you provide. If your cell phone, work phone or e-mail address changes, you will need to update your profile and contact information. The one exception is traditional landlines. If a traditional landline changes to another landline number, that information will be automatically updated.

No, the information that you provide will be used for emergency purposes only. We will not give or sell your telephone numbers or e-mail addresses to any vendor or other organization.

Flooding

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Due to the geography of San Antonio, floods are a natural hazard. Texas is prone to extremely heavy rains and flooding with half of the world record rainfall rates (48 hours or less). Central Texas, known as Flash Flood Alley, is particularly vulnerable because storms stall out along the Balcones escarpment.

BE PREPARED

Be Prepared by taking the necessary measures in protecting your home by installing "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home. Construct barriers (levees, beams, floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering the building. Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.

BE INFORMED

Be Informed by knowing where local streams, drainage channels, canyons, and other areas that are known to flood suddenly are located. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.

BE SAFE

Be Safe by knowing where to get vital flood information. Listen to your NOAA Weather Radio and local media for the latest weather information.

Flooding is a natural process, and we cannot stop it. The City of San Antonio restricts development in floodplains as part of comprehensive mitigation plan to ensure that citizens do not become victims of natural disasters or to reduce disaster losses and suffering if one does occur. Undeveloped creek areas are much more capable of absorbing floodwaters than areas that have been cleared or paved.

For more information about permits and development, call the Development Assistance Center at 210.207.1111.

Water knows no boundaries or jurisdictions and flooding can happen at any time. San Antonio, which is known as the River City, has been a continued development of resources since the early 1700’s. Along with several continued partnerships such as Bexar Regional Watershed Management and the San Antonio River Authority, the City of San Antonio has created and implemented Storm Water systems and Watershed Management practices that have greatly improved the control of flooding within the city and its surrounding jurisdictions.

Low water crossings are put into place to help identify areas that are prone to flood.

While some areas may recede quickly it is best to avoid low water crossings during pro-longed rainy weather. The City of San Antonio Public Works department has begun the process of putting into place a high water detection system that is to provide an advanced early warning system that alerts motorists and pedestrians of imminent dangers from flood waters at 42 locations throughout the city and for reduction of property damage and loss of life. This system collects data during storm events for real time activities which is stored for future reference. This is the most advanced system developed for high water crossings in the country. The high water detection system will be updated soon by adding monitoring sites throughout the city in upcoming years.

There are a wide variety of emergency situations that might require an evacuation of portions of the local area. Limited evacuation of specific geographic areas might be needed as a result of a hazardous materials transportation accident, major fire, natural gas leak, or localized flash flooding. A Large-scale evacuation could be required in the event of a major hazardous materials spill, terrorist attack with chemical agent, extensive flooding, or a hurricane. Texas has no mandatory evacuation law. Hence, the Mayor may only recommend evacuation of a threatened area, not mandate it. However, when the Mayor has issued a local disaster declaration, action may be taken to control re-entry into a stricken area and the movement of people and occupancy of buildings within a disaster area. In most emergency situations, the majority of evacuees will seek shelter with relatives or friends or in commercial accommodations rather than in public shelter facilities.

Homeland Security & Terrorism

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The Texas Department of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency offer many independent study courses for citizens and Emergency Professionals alike. For more information go to their websites.

You can also become of a member of your local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) by attending a free CERT training class. To learn more about being a CERT volunteer please visit their website.

By taking classes on-line and preparing yourself and your family for emergencies, you are taking the most important step in preparing for any future attacks.&n In addition, you can seek further disaster and emergency training through your local American Red Cross, SAPD Volunteers in Policing, and other Volunteer agencies active in disasters and emergencies.

The American Red Cross along with the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has developed a brochure entitled “Helping Children Cope With Disaster” (PDF).

All major US cities face the same similar terrorist threats.

The City has taken enormous steps in the training and preparation of our Emergency First Responders in preparation for various forms of terrorism. Through various grants and federal assistance, all first responders are being equipped with Personnel Protective Equipment, and specialized training. In addition the Office of Emergency Management conducts several exercises which incorporate different scenarios which challenge our first responders on real world events, and provides us with vital lessons learned for future exercises.

Local

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To learn more about the COSA Office of Emergency Management please contact us

You can also add us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter for weather warnings, alerts, and emergency preparedness tips or to ask questions.

Yes. The City of San Antonio Emergency Management Plan consists of a "Basic Plan" and a series of “Annexes" and Appendices distributed under separate cover.

The Basic Plan outlines the City of San Antonio’s approach to emergency operations. It provides general guidance for emergency management activities and an overview of COSA methods of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. The plan describes the COSA emergency response organization and assigns responsibilities for various emergency tasks. This plan is intended to provide a framework for more specific functional Annexes that describe in more detail who does what, when, and how. To review the Basic Plan, a PDF version is available at Plans and programs - Basic Plan.

SAOEM does not maintain outside organizations’ emergency plans. You should ask if one exists, and perhaps volunteer to form a committee and update the plan with the latest safety and preparedness information.

Call your child’s school and ask about it. Parents are highly encouraged to get involved with their child’s school activities. Often parents may even be able to play a part in developing their school’s emergency plan.

The San Antonio Emergency Operations Center is equipped with various communications devices and back up systems that can be used for emergency communication.

When existing communication systems become insufficient to meet increased needs created by an emergency, various state agencies, amateur radio operators, and business radio systems will be tasked to provide expanded communication capabilities. Amateur Radio Operators supplement the communications system as needed. This is an extremely rare occurrence.

Shelters become available around the city as needed, depending on the area affected, and type of emergency the area is experiencing. Shelter and mass care needs may only require very short term operations for a limited number of people where the primary objective is to provide protection from the weather, comfortable seating, and access to rest rooms. More lengthy operations may involve large numbers of evacuees where feeding, sleeping, and shower facilities are needed, along with a variety of other needs required by evacuees. The American Red Cross (ARC) has been chartered under federal law to provide mass care to victims of natural disasters. For this reason, COSA efforts will be coordinated with the American Red Cross, which will normally operate shelter and mass care operations insofar as its capabilities permit. Agreements are signed with local governments, school districts, churches, and other organizations to use their facilities for shelter and mass care operations. The American Red Cross identifies suitable shelter facilities based on a set of standards, maintains a list of potential shelters, maintains shelter kits, and trains shelter management personnel. Religious groups may also open shelters.

No. Tornado sirens are not a good fit for our community. Others have deployed sirens or giant voice systems such as universities and military installations with a high degree of success. They can be useful in areas with a limited geographic area, varying day and night time populations, and for those who must prepare for specific threats. Tornado sirens are intended to alert citizens who are outdoors, so that they can go inside for safety, making them ineffective for alerting people inside homes, buildings, structures, or in their vehicles. A city of 1.5 million residents and a geographic area of over 400 square miles would be near to impossible to outfit with tornado sirens. The last three tornadoes in San Antonio did not appear on the NWS radar, making it all the more difficult to deploy a siren as a warning tool.

NOAA weather radios.The National Weather Service broadcasts continuous weather information 24 hours a day.We continue to encourage citizens to obtain NOAA weather radios so that they can receive direct warnings about weather.We this method of weather notification is the timeliest, most reliable and most credible source of weather warnings.

Mass Media (Radio and Television) such as the Emergency Alert System (EAS), and Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook are other alternatives for receiving weather notifications. The use of free or fee-for-service wireless alerts such as emails and texts to your phone are available at:

Yes. Twitter and Facebook are great ways to contact and keep in touch with SAOEM.

We provide weather warnings, alters, and notifications and are readily available to answer any additional questions you may have. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The primary system in place for emergency notification of citizens of San Antonio is local and national news media outlets. Local radio and television stations will broadcast Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages when requested by City of San Antonio officials. Rapid dissemination and delivery of warning information and instructions may provide time for citizens to take action to protect themselves and their property. Warnings may also be delivered by response personnel going door-to-door. In the event that door-to-door notifications become necessary, Fire, Police, and EMS personnel will be given this task.

ENS is a telephone warning system operated by Bexar Metro 9-1-1 Emergency Network. The system calls residents of specific neighborhoods to alert them when danger threatens their area. ENS is owned and managed by the Bexar Metro 9-1-1 Network District. Register for AlertSA.