FULTON - Callaway County began utilizing an emergency alert notification system about two years ago, but recently, it's upgraded its system.
However, in order to receive weather alerts (tornado, blizzard, and winter storm warnings), residents must visit Callaway County Emergency Management's website and create an account. Residents who do not opt-in by signing up through the website will not receive any weather alerts, but may receive a phone call on their land-line phone if there's a public safety event such as chemical spill or AMBER Alert. Residents may manage what kind of notifications they receive after creating an account.
The new system has been in use since April, but so far, only about 600 residents have signed up to receive weather alerts. There were more than 2,000 residents that received weather notifications from the last notification system.
Creating an account also allows residents to add cell phone, work, and email information so they can receive alerts on multiple devices, rather than only phone calls to a land line.
The new system "Has the capability of sending notifications, SMS text, your cell phone, your land line phone, email," said Michelle Kidwell, Callaway County emergency management director. "A lot of people don't have land lines anymore, so they strictly use cell phones and so those people would never be notified," said Kidwell of the old system.
The old program also made it necessary for Kidwell to send out all alerts manually. The new system automatically sends out alerts when the National Weather Service issues a warning for the county.
"We have automatic weather alerts with this new system," said Kidwell. "It's a lot faster."
The new system also makes it possible for Callaway County officials to be more specific to whom they send notifications by allowing them to highlight which geographic areas they want to notify prior to sending the notification, instead of notifying the entire county.