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09 - 24 - 2014

County to provide disaster alerts Website and notification system will keep residents informed

By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

    Blaine County residents have two new tools to help keep them informed in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency.
    In conjunction with National Preparedness Month, the county’s Local Emergency Planning Committee has launched a new emergency and disaster preparedness website, www.blaineemergency.org, to provide information on emergency situations.
    In a news release on Sept. 18, the county also announced the launch of a community alert system. The system will be used to notify residents about immediate threats to health or safety such as severe weather, evacuations, floods, fires or critical police or fire activity. The county contracted with FirstCall earlier this year to provide the system.
    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have declared September to be National Preparedness Month.
    “As part of Emergency Preparedness Month, we would like to use this opportunity to have community members log in to the Blaine County community alert system to proactively sign up or update their contact information before an emergency exists,” said Robin Stellers, director of Blaine County Emergency Communications.
    The new alert system allows residents to receive emergency information by telephone, cell phone, text messaging (SMS), e-mail and TTY/TTD devices. Residents can choose to receive these messages via one or all of these communication methods. Officials recommend that users select several methods in the event that a particular communication device is unavailable. Emergency information may also be provided to the public through Blaine County’s Twitter and Facebook feeds.
    Residents with caller ID on their phones should take note that 208-578-4464 is the community alert system phone number. Officials recommend users include the number in their contacts under “community alert” so they do not miss important calls. If recipients of a call want to hear the message again, they can redial the number and the message will be repeated for them.
With the community alert system, registrants can choose multiple addresses at which they want to be contacted. Users can receive notifications about emergencies that may affect their home, parents’ home, workplace or child’s school, as long as those locations are within the boundaries of Blaine County. Residents can also choose to sign up for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather alerts during the registration process.
    Residents and businesses with listed landline telephone numbers are automatically included in the community alert system database. Residents with cell phones are encouraged to sign up. People who have registered with Blaine County’s previous alert system can update their contact information by clicking on the profile management link, entering their e-mail address and then clicking “forgot my password.” A new automated password will be sent to the e-mail on file. All information provided will be kept confidential.
    The community alert system is not intended to be the sole source of information for emergency alerts and should not be relied upon exclusively, as Blaine County officials cannot guarantee that every person will receive an alert.
    Officials are encouraging everyone to register before an emergency exists. A countywide test of the system is planned for Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 1 p.m.
    Those who would like to register by phone can call the registration line at 866-484-3264. Register online at www.alertregistration.com/BlaineCOID/. The registration link can also be found on the new website, www.blaineemergency.org; or on the Blaine County emergency communications website, www.blainecounty911.org; or the Blaine County website, www.blainecounty.org.