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In conjunction with National Preparedness Month this September, Hall County officials are urging citizens to sign up for the Citizen's Alert System, an online tool which notifies residents in the case of severe weather, fires, floods, toxic environmental issues and in-process violent crimes.
"This new technology is much more reliable and far-reaching than the existing weather sirens, which only reach people that are outdoors and within earshot in the event of severe weather," Hall County Emergency Management Agency Director David Kimbrell said. "The sirens were installed in the late 1990s and technology has come so far since then."
A recent audible test of the weather sirens revealed some technical issues associated with that system. Those issues, coupled with the fact that parts are no longer available for maintenance of the system, only affirmed County officials' desire to move away from the antiquated technology and further rely on the Citizens Alert System to notify residents in the case of an emergency.
"This is exactly the reason why we consistently test those sirens," Kimbrell said. "And those results are also the reason why we're promoting this more efficient method of receiving severe weather updates."
The Hall County Citizen's Alert System was launched in February 2012. The system alerts residents through a variety of contact mechanisms, including cell phone, landline, email, text messaging, pager, and more, ensuring that important information is received within minutes-no matter the person's location.
"Natural disasters on any scale are unfortunate, but we think their impact can be lessened if citizens are notified as quickly as possible, and this system allows us to do that," said Kimbrell.
According to Hall County 9-1-1 Director Gail Lane, more than 45,000 residents and/or businesses have been added to the system's database.
"The ability to reach all residents quickly during an emergency in order to warn them and provide guidance is critical to upholding our commitment to protecting citizens from any danger that threatens our community," said Lane.
Citizens can sign up to receive the mass notifications by going to alerts.hallcounty.org and clicking on the Citizen's Alert System link. That's where they can select what types of emergencies they want to be notified of and through what method of communication they'd like to receive those alerts.
Residents can self-register, provide additional contact information or opt out at any time by logging on to alerts.hallcounty.org. In addition to being notified about emergencies, residents can also receive information about other important activities, such as road closures and water utility maintenance.