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Sign up for EMA’s Rave emergency notifications

By Huck Treadwell

March typically ushers in the spring severe weather season in Alabama.

Pike County Emergency Management Agency Director Herb Reeves said severe thunderstorms, straight-line winds and tornadoes are the main severe weather threats in the area at this time of year. Reeves said the county currently relies on an inefficient and aging system of warning signs to alert people to weather dangers. But, Reeves said modern technology provides a much better and more efficient option for getting news of severe weather out to people.

“We use Rave Alert to notify people,” Reeves said. “We can send out any message — weather, roads, accidents. With Rave, we can reach more people than the tornado sirens.”

Reeves said the county currently has 13 sirens, but, he said, each siren is only audible for about one mile. Pike County has about 673 square miles, so the existing sirens only covey a tiny portion of the county.

Reeves said, for example, there is a tornado siren in Saco, but the next closest siren is on Josie. “There’s a lot of distance between them,” he said. In addition, Reeves said the existing sirens are at least 40 years old and he said parts were difficult to find and repair costs were “astronomical.”

Reeves said he’s currently discussing a plan to phase out the existing sirens as they cease to function. He said Brundidge and Troy maintain the sirens within their respective city limits. And, he said the county would continue to maintain the sirens close to school zones.

He said the EMA plans to transition as many people as possible to the Rave Alert system as soon possible. He said signing up is free, all people have to do is visit pikecounty911/rave-alert and sign up.

Reeves said the EMA was working to get the word out and to encourage people to sign up. He said Rave allows people to get alerts through text, email, cellphone calls or calls to a landline. But, Reeves said currently, the EMA has a lot of work to do in getting the message out.

He said he didn’t have an exact number, but less than 25 percent of the people in the county were signed up for Rave.

One of the benefits of Rave Alert, is than all alerts occur in real-time, so there is no lag in getting information to people. People are also able to customize the types of alerts they receive and how they receive the alerts.

The alerts can be delivered to homes, businesses, mobile devices, land lines, email ad-dress, text messages and other options.

Reeves said the Rave Alerts can also be tied to Smart 911, giving first-responders critical information when responding to emergency calls.

“When you sign up, you can put in whatever information you want to about your address,” Reeves said. “If you have a person with a disability or medical condition or even if you want to alert responders about your pets, you can put all of that information into the system. When medics or emergency personnel are responding, they can see than information and know what they are headed into before they arrive.”