Liberty County residents are being urged to sign up for a mass notification system already implemented by the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency.
“We can now call you 10 different ways to notify you of an emergency,” Liberty County EMA Director of Mike Hodges said. “In the event of an emergency like a tornado or something like the cannonball recently found at a local dump and taken to a Hinesville home, we can call your home phone or cell phone, send you a text or email message or use other social media, but you’ve got to sign up for it first.”
Hodges said the new system is provided through Everbridge.com, a communications company. He urges Liberty Countians to go to www.libertycountyga.com/alertliberty then click on Citizen Alert, Notification Sign Up. You will be asked to list your name and address and the various ways to contact you electronically. Hodges said you can prioritize your contacts.
Sirens will still be used for mass notification of an emergency but, he explained, EMA now has the cability to activate alarms only in an affected area. If a tornado is sighted in downtown Hinesville, the system allows EMA to plot its location. Only people living in the affected area will be notified, he said. The EMA will alert the smallest area necessary to cause the least interruption.
He also explained that if there’s a shooter or hostage situation in a home, EMA will warn only residents in that area. And they can notify people around that home without alerting the shooter.
“The system will notify you for something as critical as a tornado or as simple as a road closure or water outage in your area,” Hodges said. “It will not be used to sell or advertise anything, and it will not be used for political activities.”
Information technology specialist Clint Stanley said the system already has residential information from the phone directory. He said it’s up to residents to supply additional contact information. Hodges said those who “restrict” themselves by not listing their other contact information may be hurt during an emergency because they could not be reached.
He said the system is paid for by a grant from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. There will be no increase in resident’s phone or internet bills, he said.
Stanley said the system will try to contact users until it reaches them, running though all the numbers and contacts they provide. It will stop calling the other contact numbers after users respond to a call. He said the system is also “smart enough” to know when an answering machine comes on and will continue the other calls. The system is capable of making up to 10,000 calls at once.
Hodges said people who change phone numbers, email address or social media site will have to update their information.
If you think the system has tried to contact you or want to know if there are any current alerts, EMA Assistant Director Larry Logan said you can call 369-3333 and follow the prompts.