By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Lee County residents in the path of severe weather will get telephone alerts through a new system that goes live Monday, but they need to register online for it first.
Called CodeRED Weather Warning, the system uses National Weather Service radar to track dangerous storms and floods and project their likely paths. Residents in those areas will receive recorded phone messages telling them to take the necessary precautions.
Phone calls from CodeRED will appear on Caller IDs as 800-566-9780.
“Essentially, the Lee County Board of Supervisors has made it possible for every citizen to have their own weather siren, which will sound only when they are in the path of a storm,” said board President Phil Morgan at a news conference on Friday at the Lee County Justice Center.
The system is free to all Lee County residents, including those within municipalities, and residents are paying for it with tax dollars. The Board of Supervisors, in partnership with the Three Rivers Planning and Development District, contracted with CodeRED for $16,726 per year.
That’s about 20 cents per resident.
Originally, the system was projected to cost $25,000. But the price dropped after Three Rivers recruited six other counties to sign up: Calhoun, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lafayette, Pontotoc and Union.
To sign up, residents must go online to www.co.lee.ms.us or www.trpdd.com/codered. There, they will enter their home and cell phone numbers, address and which weather alerts they want: tornado, severe thunderstorm, flash flood. Registration begins Monday.
“We’re doing a media blitz,” said county Administrator Sean Thompson. “This only works if you sign up, so we need as many people to sign up as possible.”
The system is seen as a boon for rural areas, which often lack enough tornado sirens to audibly reach every household.
Lee County, for example, has 26 sirens. But only nine are outside Tupelo. Each has about a 2-mile sound radius, versus the county’s 453-square-mile territory. As a result, potentially thousands of households sit outside of range.