County considers telephone weather warning system

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 9, 2009

NATCHEZ — It may not be long before county and city residents start getting calls to warn them of hazardous weather.

The calls would be coming from the Code Red Weather Warning, a system currently being researched by Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens.

The program is has two components, and both are aimed at making the county safer.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s a good system,” Owens said. “All of the county’s 34,000 occupants are going to benefit.”

The first component, Code Red, uses a database of phone numbers to call residents in a specific area to alert them to any type of danger.

Owens said if there were a chemical spill downtown, he could alert only residents in the impacted area of the danger.

The Weather Warning component works on the same principal, but alerts residents in specific areas to weather dangers as soon as the National Weather Service issues a warning specific to their area.

“It’s completely automated,” Owens said of the Weather Warning.

And while the system won’t need much human maintenance once its in place — it will need funding.

Owens said to implement both components of the program, which comes cheaper as a package, it costs approximately $22,500 a year.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors were only recently presented with a preliminary outline of how the system works.

Owens is hoping the county and City of Natchez will split the cost of the system.

And while no official action has been taken, members of the board of aldermen and board of supervisors said they are open to sharing the cost.

Supervisor Darryl Grennell said when danger, weather or otherwise, is pending, residents need to be warned.

“We need to have notification,” he said.

However, Grennell said he’d only endorse the spending provided the county and city could have some assurance the system would work properly.

Grennell said he’s aware of one instance where the local government spent thousands on a similar project and it never worked correctly.

“It was a big problem for them,” he said.

Aldermen Bob Pollard also said he’d support spending to keep residents safe.

“You can’t get enough warnings,” he said.

In Meridian, the system is already being successfully used.

Meridian’s Administrative Secretary of Homeland Security Teresa Radcliffe said the city’s currently using Code Red Weather Warning to send notifications to 15,000 phone numbers.

“We’ve gotten very positive feedback,” Radcliffe said. “Even from the 2 a.m. phone calls.”

Owens said he plans to discuss the program at the next meeting of the E911 board, scheduled for next week.

He has asked both city and county board members to attend.