Walker County is now actively using the CodeRED system to notify area residents of everything from severe weather to road closings.
Mass texts, emails and phone calls to citizens in Walker County will be going out from CodeRED in the coming days to help notify residents of the new service and how to sign up for it.
The Walker County Commission and Walker County E-9-1-1 are splitting the cost for the service, which is $14,600 per year.
“This is a way of us to improve our technology and our efficiency when notifying the public,” said Regina Myers, Walker County Emergency Management Agency coordinator. “CodeRED is a technology that a lot of emergency management offices are turning to, as outdoor sirens are very expensive to maintain, and are a very antiquated system,”
Myers said the system is more reliable than outdoor weather sirens. The cost will also save taxpayers because replacement parts and batteries for sirens are expensive.
“My budget for maintenance on sirens is almost as much as this service,” she said. “If we have a siren needing replaced, that cost could be three times what we are paying for CodeRed.”
Walker County E-911 Director Tim Thomas said sirens are not reliable in warning people for severe weather, saying they can usually only be heard outdoors. He said the new system will alert to cell phones, tablets, land lines and hearing impaired TTY devices.
“I believe this is a great move to help us reach as many citizens as possible in the event of an emergency,” Thomas said.
Thomas and Myers said the service will be used for more than just severe weather situations.
“This service gives us an option to put out information about road closures, hazmat, if they need to shelter in place or if they need to do volunteer evacuations – things to that effect, so we can get all this information out to the public via their phones, cell phones or email,” Myers said.
Citizens must register for the full service, which is free, but severe weather alerts will automatically go to everyone without signing up.
“If they are in our area, whether they are registered or not, it will hit them with a tornado warning,” Thomas said.
To enroll with the service, text “WalkerCoAL” to 99411.