Upson County citizens will soon be rest a little easier when it comes to being notified about bad weather, thanks to the recent implementation of the Everbridge system. This mass alert telephone system will be used to notify residents of threats of severe weather such as tornado watches and severe thunderstorms, as well as community alerts that include missing persons, utility outages or even road closures.
“This is going to be a good program,” said Upson County Emergency Management Director Martha Anne McCarty. “This is not costing the citizens anything, thanks to a grant the county received. It is always good to know what is coming at you before it gets there.”
Every citizen or business with a listed landline telephone number in the county 911 system is automatically signed up to receive the emergency alerts. However, if you wish to receive community alerts, or be notified of emergency alerts through another means of communication (such as cell phones, text messages or email), you must register and provide the necessary information; to do this go to the Upson County website at www.upsoncountyga.org. Once there, step by step instructions will be listed on the page; there will also be information included in upcoming city utility bills and county water bills, as well as listed on the Upson County Emergency Management Association page on Facebook.
Another feature of this system is that people outside of Upson County can sign up to receive alerts for the area. For example, if you had elderly parents who lived in town and you lived in another state, you could register online to receive alerts for their location; all you need to do is put in their address on the “locations you care about” section of the form.
Former EMA Director Billy Mitcham noted that one of the questions to come up is why is this system needed when the county already has weather sirens. He stated that Upson County has had the weather sirens since the 1960s, but they are mainly to alert those who work outside, not indoors and they will still be functioning in addition to the new system.
“We have had those sirens in place since the 1960s and have never had the problems with them like we have had over the last six months,” said Mitcham in reference to the sirens being out of service. “At least now we have a backup in place.”
The committee for this program, which is made up of McCarty and Mitcham, along with E911 Director Carl McKinney, Upson County IT Director Robert Hayne, and Upson County Commissioner Ralph Ellington, feel this system will prove to be beneficial for the community. In a press release they stated, “We have a commitment to protect our citizens from any danger that threatens our community. The ability to reach all residents quickly during an emergency in order to warn them and provide guidance is critical to upholding that commitment, which is why we selected the Everbridge system. The Everbridge mass notification and interactive communication system ensures the county will be able to react quickly and efficiently to reach each individual in the case of an emergency.”
Anyone who wishes to receive alerts on something other than their listed landline phone can begin signing up now; plans are set for the system to go live at the beginning of March. Any questions about the system can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.