09/04/08 — Duplin's Code Red alert system ready for Hanna

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Duplin's Code Red alert system ready for Hanna

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 4, 2008 1:55 PM

KENANSVILLE — Duplin County Emergency Services Director Brian Pearce has simple advice for county residents when it comes to the possible arrival of Hurricane Hanna — monitor the weather and heed any advisories.

“And fortunately if we need to we can get them (advisories) out through Code Red,” he said. “I hope we don’t have to use it, but there is the possibility.”

Code Red is the Florida-based company that the county has contracted with to provide emergency and weather-related disaster alerts. The system has been operational in Duplin for the past several weeks. Wayne County implemented the same system last month.

Along with disaster alerts, the system can be used to issue Amber and Silver alerts.

The system was first triggered over a week ago when severe weather struck the county including the report of a possible tornado between Rose Hill and Teachey.

People with listed telephone numbers are automatically included in the database used by Code Red to generate the alerts. Those with cell phones or unlisted phone numbers need to register with Code Red. People may register alternative phone numbers as well. Registration also is required to receive the weather alerts.

Pearce said the county had looked at several systems before settling on Code Red. Along with cost — $22,500 annually — the weather alert capability was a deciding factor, he said.

People who do not want to receive alerts may sign up for a do-not-call list.

A link to the Code Red Web site is located on the county Web site at www.duplincountync.com.

Anyone who needs assistance entering information into Code Red should contact Duplin County Addressing at 910-296-2169. That way their address can be verified when it is entered, Pearce said. People may still contact Duplin County Emergency Services if they have other questions.

For people who live in mobile homes, there is a block to check that would place them in a special category, particularly in the event of high-wind alerts.

“During our approval process for the submissions so far, very few people have checked the mobile home box, possibly because it is at the bottom of the form,” Pearce said.

The required information for the system is first and last name, street address, city, state, zip code, and primary phone number. The system utilizes geographic information for notifications, so it is very important that correct street addresses are utilized, Pearce said. Secondary phone numbers, e-mail, type of home construction and the ability to receive weather warnings are supplemental information that may also be entered, he said.

The information will be kept confidential and only utilized by Duplin County to notify residents with public information, Pearce said.

“We are encouraging everybody to register to ensure we have everyone in the database,” he said.

Code Red allows the county to send an alert out countywide or to a specific area or geographic region.

The system has the ability to deliver pre-recorded emergency notifications to county residents at the rate of 60,000 calls per hour. This is an extremely beneficial service that allows quick notification to county residents in the event of an emergency, Pearce said.

He noted that Duplin County is large in area, but small in terms of population. In the past, fire departments were alerted in event of an emergency and fire fighters, all of whom are volunteers, went door-to-door warning people.

Code Red is a Web-based system that can be accessed by any authorized persons from any computer.

Pearce said that all 911 supervisors on duty will be able to access the system.

“That way we always will have someone on duty,” he said.

Funding for the system was appropriated from unused and additional revenue for fiscal year 2007-08 from the Emergency Services budget. Code Red also has been approved as a reimbursable expense if it is utilized in a federally declared disaster.