By NEMS Daily Journal
Three Rivers Planning and Development District and the Lee County Board of Supervisors made a good public service decision when they partnered for the amazingly affordable sum of $16,726 per year to provide CodeRED weather alert free for every county household.
Communities pay a flat annual fee for the service. There are no additional subscriber charges, which makes the system unusually affordable as a public service.
The two will ramp up their sign-up efforts today with a session to teach representatives of churches and other groups how to sign up members, friends, relatives and neighbors who don’t have the Internet access required.
Today’s training session starts at 9 a.m. at the Magnolia Center at the Lee County Agri-center in Verona.
The CodeRED system calls any registered telephone with an area-specific emergency weather warning for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods. The calls are brief and to the point. The system had its first use within 48 hours of activation when a line of severe weather pushed through Northeast Mississippi.
Thousands of households have registered online, but about 13,900 Lee County households don’t have Internet connections.
CodeRED uses National Weather Service radar to track threatening weather, and the calls begin virtually simultaneously with the issuance of a warning by NWS. Northeast Mississippi is in the coverage area of the Memphis office of NWS.
County Administrator Sean Thompson urges all Lee County churches, civic organizations and municipal governments to send representatives. After learning the simple sign-up protocol those organizations can offer sign-up sessions for their members.
The system is designed for geographic specificity. For example, if a severe weather alert is needed for one part of Lee County but not all areas, the telephones signed up in the warned area will ring but not the telephones in residences or businesses outside the warning area.
Using heading and speed to determine the most vulnerable areas, CodeRED Weather Warning calls those most at risk first, the system’s website states.
The sign-up for people with Internet access is easy: Go online to www.co.lee.ms.us or www.trpdd.com/codered and enter a home and cellphone number, address and which weather alerts to get: tornado, severe thunderstorm or flash flood.
Internet density is not high in Mississippi. The U.S. Census Bureau reports just 56.6 percent of Mississippi homes have Internet access, so nearly half the 32,086 households in Lee County must get outside help to register.
Today’s session provides it.