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Izard County implements new warning system

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Izard County has implemented a new automatic warning system called Code Red which alerts county residents to national weather alerts in their area. With the severe weather season upon us, Dennis Williams, coordinator of the Office of Emergency Management for Izard County says the system is a great tool for individuals and businesses to receive timely severe storm warnings.

"The warnings are automatically triggered when the National Weather Service issues a warning that includes their address. All businesses should register, as well as all individuals. Land lines and cell phones are both eligible to be submitted," said Williams.

Williams and Deputy Coordinator, Stephanie Pittman, attended the annual Arkansas Department of Emergency Management meeting where they first found out about the Code Red system.

"It can generate maybe 1,500 calls per minute," said Pittman. "The county gets 1,000 minutes every year, and with those minutes we can use it for areawide boil orders; we can designate the exact area to include and it will only call the people in that area. If a child goes missing in a certain area, we can call homes just in that area, or we can call county wide. Our main use will be for the weather warnings."

It doesn't matter if your main phone is a land line or a cell phone, the system can make calls to either form of telephone.

"It costs us $8,000 a year, and $250 a month for the Web site, but if it saves just one life, it's more than worth it. County Judge Rayburn Finley was the one who made it possible for us to get this system," said Williams.

Judge Finley is strongly behind the program. "I think it's going to work really well, especially for the folks in the rural areas. It will help keep them safe," said Finley.

To sign up, you'll need your address and the phone number you want the calls to come to, Williams said. If you live outside of the city limits, you'll need to know your county road and approximately where you're located along that road. TDD/TTY service is also available for hearing impaired residents.

When someone answers the alert phone call, the system will automatically check them off the list. If they don't answer, the system will add them to the bottom of the list and try to call again. If someone misses the call but has voicemail, it will leave a message for them to call and when they call in, they'll get the weather message.

"It's a new thing for Izard County, but we've been signing up folks daily, and a lot of people don't know how to get on the computer to sign up, so we encourage folks to call us or come down and see us to get signed up," said Williams. "I want every citizen in the county to get involved in this. It's a good thing."

To sign up online, go to www.myizardcounty.com and click the Code Red link. Just follow the directions on the screen and click submit.

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I read this article with interest as many residents in the rural Izard County area experience difficulty receiving television reception after the big switch. Even with converter boxes and antennas when the weather is bad, the reception drops off. News from Little Rock is not always accurate to our area.

With as many storms that we have in Izard County,

it is important for residents to receive as much notification as possible for potential hazardous conditions such as floods, thunder storms, and tornados.

The facilitators of Code Red in Izard County may want to take into consideration that many residents still do not have numeric 911 addressing. It would be great to sign up to use the service, but with rural route addresses such as HC BOX - an error comes up on the sign up form and the process cannot be completed.

If and when Izard County residents are given numeric 911 addresses, I am sure there'd be plenty of people interested in participating.

Thank you for your consideration.

Danielle Westvang,


-- Posted by goatgirl on Fri, Jul 24, 2009, at 5:45 PM

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