Text alerts to serve Miss.

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 31, 2008

NATCHEZ — Whether it is a hurricane coming from the Gulf, rising floodwaters or tornadoes, residents of Mississippi have a new way to be notified of impending disasters.

Earlier this month, the state launched a new system that can be used to send mass warnings to residents through text messages, e-mail or phone calls.

“With the notification system, we can send alerts and notifications to state employees and the residents and businesses of Mississippi in case of events such as advancing hurricanes or major incident post-clean up initiatives,” said Mike Womack, Mississippi Emergency Management director.

Email newsletter signup

Publicly available home and business phone numbers, will automatically go into the system, but cell phones and other numbers can be added.

“It’s going to be a state-wide system,” said Stan Owens Jr., director of the Adams County Emergency Management Agency. “It’s not really going to be utilized on the county level.”

However, Owens is looking to bring a more localized version into Adams County.

“I’m really excited and I really hope we can get one of these local ones off the ground,” he said.

The county system would be able to send warnings to specific neighborhoods, the county at large or individual emergency groups like search and rescue, he said.

“(It could contact) any organization that is a notifying organization,” he said.

It could also be used to help notify people of amber alerts.

Residents will have to rely on the state system for now, as the local groups work on getting a system.

“It’ll be months down the road,” Owens said. “It’s expensive and we want to make sure we find the one that fits us best.”

Although the cost is prohibitive, Owens said the system would be well worth the price.

“If you could save one life with it, it would be worth the price,” he said.

To register for the state system, log onto www.msema.org.