OUR OPINION: CodeRED sent calls amid recent storms

By NEMS Daily Journal

Lee County’s new CodeRED Weather Warning system worked as hoped Wednesday night when severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for portions of Lee and other counties in Northeast Mississippi.
Lee County Board of Supervisors President Phil Morgan said Thursday he had received several calls expressing gratitude for the board’s purchase of the system at $16,726 per year, about 20 cents per person.
About 1,800 telephone numbers had signed up by Thursday afternoon. Lee County E911 reported that on Wednesday night, 728 calls went out at 7:51 p.m., with 634 answered, plus 588 text messages. Later 407 calls went out with 347 answered, plus 327 texts.
The calls were made only in zones of severe weather defined by the National Weather Service office in Memphis, so people in one part of Lee County would not necessarily have received a call when people living elsewhere in the county had a warning.
The service is easily accessible by going to the website www.trpdd.com/codered. Telephone numbers, names and addresses are required. The service is free.
Morgan said the board worked with the board of Three Rivers Planning and Development District to get a deal that lowered the price and provided the service for all seven TRPDD counties.
The cost for the system compares to millions that would have been required for a massive expansion of the siren alert system, whose audible range is limited and which would not offer coverage for the full county. Lee County has 26 sirens and 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.
Morgan noted that it would be helpful if CodeRED used its name or a logo to identify its calls rather than an 800 number. We agree.
Some people don’t answer 800 numbers in an attempt to avoid various kinds of solicitations.
Phone calls from CodeRED 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,” Morgan said at a news conference last week at the Lee County Justice Center.
The supervisors moved quickly to purchase the service after they became aware of its affordability, and working with other regional counties through Three Rivers is a way many ideas can be implemented.

Information on signing up

To sign up, residents must go online to 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.