In the event of a natural disaster, a new smartphone app will be able to aid Williamson County residents with emergency communications, evacuation routes and creating a family preparedness plan, officials said.
To help residents create plans for emergencies, the WilCo Office of Emergency Management announced the new app, “WILCO Ready”, Sept. 12 at the Williamson County Commissioners Court. The announcement comes in alignment with the court proclaiming September as National Preparedness Month.
The app will provide users who create prep plans with an emergency supply kit list, grocery list and checklists tailored to specific needs. All of the information stored in the app stays in the app, said Jarred Thomas, Williamson County emergency management director.
“You can build your family’s emergency plan here, and then it will create a supply list for your family emergency kit,” Thomas said. “You also can build a notification list from your phone contacts, and it will notify that list of your status during an emergency as soon as you have cellular service.”
“WILCO Ready” is designed specifically to aid in personal and family planning, emergency communications planning, emergency status sharing, local disaster mapping, and provide updated information provided during emergencies, Thomas said.
Residents can also self-report damage to personal property following a disaster through the app. This allows the Office of Emergency Management to quickly receive and compile more accurate accounts of total damage in the county, Thomas said.
County officials are also underway working with individual cities within Williamson County so the app can be a unified, shared resource for information.
“WarnCentralTexas.org is still the primary means for sending emergency messages out to affected areas for evacuations or other emergency messages,” Thomas said. “This app will be a secondary source for those emergency messages, but is less restrictive in what messages can be sent and will include additional information beyond the initial warning.”
WILCO Ready is available as a free download for Android and Apple devices from the app store.
Texas has more natural disasters than any other state, recording 26 major disasters since the year 2000.