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Sign up for texts, phone calls about local alerts, emergencies

Scott Seitz2 • May 9, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Local officials are adding another option to help people's awareness during possible emergency situations.

"We've been in the market for a sort of reverse 9-1-1 system for at least six years," said Jason Roblin, Huron County Emergency Management Agency director.

"We got a recent push lately when the city lost the ability to break into (cable television) thanks to a new state contract with the PUCO (Public Utilities Commission of Ohio," he said.

Roblin said the county commissioners teamed up with the cities of Norwalk, Bellevue and Willard to contract with Everbridge.

This emergency notification system enables emergency service providers to supply residents with critical information quickly in a variety of situations, such as local emergencies, severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons and evacuation of buildings or neighborhoods.

Residents can choose to have alerts sent in a variety of ways, including emails, text messages and phone calls to land lines, cell phones or business phones.

"You can select the types of community alerts you want to receive," Roblin said. "Things like boil alerts or snow parking bans are part of the alerts. This is just another piece of the puzzle to help people stay alert."

Dispatchers are being trained to use the system.

While the program has a tentative starting date of May 20, residents are able to sign up right now.

"People can also opt out anytime they want," Roblin said.

The cost is being split between the commissioners and the three cities. "It's a population-based formula," he said.

Roblin said there were about $41,000 in start-up costs and the program will cost about $10,000 a year. "We have a five-year contract with the option for two additional years," he said.

Residents can sign up by visiting norwalkoh.com, cityofbellevue.com, willardohio.com or huroncountysheriff.org, and clicking on an Everbridge link.

Once you are at the opt-in portal, there are three steps:

1) Choose up to five locations in the county, including all of Bellevue.

2) Choose up to nine extra community alert message types you wish to receive.

3) Select up to 10 ways you wish to be contacted. You can also prioritize these contact paths.

The system will stop attempting to contact you once you confirm receipt of the message. It will not continue to leave message after message on every device you list. You can also opt-out of the community alerts at any time. Keep in mind that each person in your household should sign up individually. This will prevent one family member receiving the alert while the others do not.

If you have any questions regarding the alert program, call the county EMA office at (419) 663-5772.

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