The City of Leander is looking into why some residents didn’t receive a notification regarding Sunday’s tornado. Others say they received the notification after it swept through.
Leander resident Andrew Thompson says he and his wife woke up to strong winds and hail. “I looked out the window and saw things flying down the street.”
What they didn’t know, is that it was actually a tornado. Thompson says they weren’t given any warning beforehand.
“About five minutes or so after it came through, my wife looked and said ‘Did you have a notification? I don’t.’ Then she did look and she said ‘Oh, there it is.’ Well too late, it already came through,” says Thompson.
FOX 7 Austin asked the City of Leander why only some residents got an emergency notification but they are still figuring that out.
The system used is called Warn Central Texas. Officials say it’s managed by the Capital Area Council of Governments, who receives information from the National Weather Service during emergency situations. Text, voice or email notifications are then sent out to residents.
The city is trying to figure out who all received notifications, when and what area they live in. Thompson lives in the Palmera Ridge neighborhood. He wants future notifications to be prompt.
“So we can really take the appropriate precautions. We were both upstairs asleep in bed, we would’ve been downstairs, under the stairs, if we knew it was coming,” says Thompson.
Veronica Russell says she got a notification just minutes before the tornado. “Tornado warning in this area till 9:00 am. Take shelter now.”
But Russell says it was vague.
“They should probably give a specific area where it’s happening. I did check The Weather Channel on my phone and it said Leander-area,” says Russell.
The city is also looking into problems which may have prevented other residents from receiving a notification at all.
Cell phone video sent in by a viewer gives us a glimpse of the twister, with peak winds of 90 miles per hour. The short path of destruction was from Leander to just north of Hwy 29.
The Leander Fire Department says three homes were damaged. FOX 7 Austin found out it was actually one family on a large piece of property. That family says they never got a notification. They just heard the storm and hid. When it was all over, they walked out to the mess.
That mess is what Melissa Wagner is doing research on. A drone allows her to do mapping and show what areas were hit the hardest. Wagner says she has offered to give her video to Leander Fire.
“It can really give us some good idea of whats going on with the mechanics of the tornado,” says Melissa Wagner, PhD candidate, Arizona State University.
The City of Leander says for now, they encourage residents to sign up for notifications at Warn Central Texas if they haven’t already.
by Ashley Paredez (2018, May 22) Fox 7 Austin