OXFORD, MS (abc24.com) - Is there anything you can't use your phone for these days? If you live near Oxford, Mississippi, you can soon add one more function that will protect you in severe weather.
Lafayette County is spending $50,000 a year for a new emergency alert system.
"Sirens in the county are fine," says county supervisor Johnny Morgan, "but usually when you have a tornado, you can't hear a siren."
Morgan speaks from experience. The politician attended a local ribbon cutting on a building almost demolished during a tornado last spring.
"We're within a half mile of a siren right here," he tells abc24.com, "but people in this area could not hear the siren because of the wind noise."
The roof was blown off the factory. Nearby houses were damaged.
"These people didn't have any clue the tornado was coming this direction," Morgan says.
Since then, the county's been looking for a better way to alert the area's 40,000 residents of impending danger.
Their solution? Code Red Weather Warning. It's a national phone network, and the county just subscribed to it.
Anytime there's an emergency, like a natural disaster, everyone signed up for the service will receive a phone call alerting them to what's happening.
"If we'd had Code Red during the tornado," says Morgan, "those people would have have gotten a phone call tracking the tornado. It will all be done electronically. If the National Weather Service issues an alert it will automatically go out to everyone by phone."
It's free for residents. The county pays for every person who signs up.
"We feel like this is the fastest and best way to alert people of any natural disaster," Morgan says.
The county is asking everyone interested to go online and sign up. You can register your cell or home phone number.