OLIVE BRANCH, MS (abc24.com) - When moments count, the city of Olive Branch is working to stay a step ahead. City leaders are working on adding a new emergency system that sends alerts directly to residents' phones or computers. The idea is saving time will save lives.
"The whole neighborhood's been affected by storms, we've had a lot of new roofs," says Keith Dial. "I think if people had a way they could stay connected it'd be better."
Dial says he'd be one of the first to sign up for alerts from the city.
The Board of Aldermen is finalizing a deal to join a new system called CodeRED.
"You could notify everyone in the city," says Mayor Sam Rikard. It could happen within minutes of severe weather or emergencies. Alerts would come "by home phone, cell phone, by text or by email. You get to opt in and choose how to receive your message," Rikard says. You also choose what type of alerts you get, anything from storms or tornadoes to traffic accidents.
Rikard remembers a few years ago when the city needed to tell 1,000 residents about a water main break. "We had to go door to door knocking on the doors. We had firefighters, everyone we could get."
Now they'll be able to send out those types of messages with just a few clicks.
Rikard thinks the alerts will be invaluable in bad weather. "If you're driving down the road and it's raining hard, you're probably not going to hear a warning siren," he says. "But you are likely to hear your phone ringing to alert you."
"Every body's got their cell phone with them," agrees Dial. "Whereas they might hear an alarm but don't know where it's coming from or what it's for."
The program costs $22,000 dollars a year. Once approved, sign up should begin in the next few months.