Residents must take advantage of CodeRed

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, May 26, 2012

Warren County supervisors heard the grumbles, and they have answered. Thankfully.

The five board members voted Monday to provide the CodeRed emergency alert system to all Warren County residents who choose to participate. The same system covers Vicksburg, where 1,241 residents have signed up.

The system provides updated severe weather alerts via text message to all Warren County addresses, and the alerts can be sent to cell phones or land line phones. Signing up for the service is free. We urge all residents, especially those in outlying, rural areas of the county to take advantage.

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Since 2008, the City of Vicksburg has contracted with Florida-based Emergency Communications Network to enact the CodeRed system locally.

The push for CodeRed countywide picked up steam in March when an EF-2 tornado struck the southern part of Warren County. It leveled trees and a few mobile homes, but luckily there were no serious injuries. Sixteen emergency sirens remained silent, giving residents the appearance that they had malfunctioned.

The sirens, though, were never intended for tornado warnings. To repair, replace or equip them for tornadoes would have cost the taxpayer thousands per siren. That would have been unreasonable.

The CodeRed deal binds Warren County to pay $15,625 in the first year, county Emergency Management Director John Elfer said. It jumps to $18,750 the final two years. Still, it’s free for residents to register a cell or land line phone number to receive calls or text messages about tornado warnings,

By our geography, Mississippi is a haven for volatile weather. Tornadoes are commonplace. Arming county residents with every tool available only will aid in limiting tornadic destruction, at least in terms of human casualties.

After several weeks of discussion, the county has made the correct decision. The county’s decision alone is not enough, however. Now the responsibility lies with the people. It is up to the people to take advantage of this service.

Without the people’s participation, CodeRed is useless.