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Facebook page helped get emergency notifications to public as wildfire encroached on Central Texas town


FLAT, Texas (KWTX) – There are varying opinions on the benefits of social media, but during recent Central Texas wildfires, the administrators and contributors of a local Facebook group proved to be a godsend for Coryell County residents.

As the Crittenburg Complex Fire crossed Fort Hood’s boundaries, many county residents relied on updates from the Coryell All Hazards Preparedness Hub. In fact, it helped spread the word about evacuation notices that were issued in the town of Flat on Sunday.

In the days since, there seems to be a calmer picture in the area, though the fires are still burning.

“We don’t have any fire units on the fire today. They’re on stand-by waiting to see what happens when the winds pick up,” said Budd Johnson. “So it’s a good time to take a nap,” he joked.

Johnson is part of a group of about 20 people who run the All Hazards Facebook page. Within the past few days it has started to get a lot of attention from residents and officials.

“The Coryell All Hazards Preparedness Hub, they’ve been keeping up pretty good on who is getting evacuated and who needs to be ready,” said Kylie Moran, with the Texas A&M Forest Service, during a news conference Sunday.

The page was started in 2018 in coordination with Coryell County emergency management.

“We just try to help any way we can,” said Johnson.

The main goal is to push out information to make sure people are prepared for any situation to come.

Since wildfires have broken out around the county, more people are giving it praise.

“There was a lot of people that thanked me for early warnings, so to speak,” said Johnson.

Johnson, a retiree from the Air Force and former volunteer firefighter, works from inside his home.

“Of course, I’m too old to (fight fires) now,” said Johnson. “So I’m doing it on the computers, sitting in my bedroom, so to speak.”

So the plan is to carry on and push out verifiable information to keep people safe.

He also encourages all county residents to sign up for the Code Red alert system.

“I won’t post hear-say, stuff you get off of Facebook, you see a lot of that,” said Johnson. “I won’t post that.”

Follow the All Hazards page by clicking this link.

Sign up for Code Red alerts here.

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