• 68°

E-mail, text messages keep citizens weather aware

When the bad weather hit on Sunday night, a little more than 120weather-conscious people were already in the know, and notnecessarily from a weather radio.

Those people already had a notification in their e-mail or textmessage inboxes, courtesy of Copiah County Emergency Management.EMA Director Randle Drane said the system sends alerts tosubscribers that updates them on the latest watches and warningsfrom the National Weather Service.

The system is quick and easy and free to the public, but itcould be the thing that keeps them safe in a situation of foulweather.

“I think it’s going to hopefully be another tool to get theearly warning out to the public because a lot of them don’t haveweather radios but they do have cell phones,” he said.

The e-mails tend to give an earlier notification, he said, withtexts being more of an as-it-happens situation.

“Usually on the e-mail it’s to let people know what we’re goingto receive, like if the National Weather Service is looking atsevere weather tonight, they’re steadily giving us information, andI’m getting that information to the public on this system,” hesaid. “Text is more of a quick warning.”

Drane said the process is simple.

When he gets an e-mail from the National Weather Service, hecleans it up and sends it to a list of subscribers in his computer.The same goes for the cell phone list.

When it comes to his cell phone, he forwards it out to a groupin his phone address book that includes all the subscribers.

The text and e-mail system should be a good addition to what isalready a growing weather alert system in Copiah County, Dranesaid.

At this point, Wesson and the Copiah Lincoln Community Collegeboth have weather sirens, as does Georgetown. Crystal Springs is inthe process of getting one through a mitigation grant.

“We’re working toward buying a relay box to where my officecould set those sirens off,” Drane said, adding that currently thesirens have to be set off locally once a watch or warning has beenput out by the National Weather Service.

Drane said his office was able to obtain the siren systemsthanks to the support of the Copiah County Board ofSupervisors.

“All this couldn’t have happened if we didn’t have the board wehave,” he said. “They’re always willing to work with us to help usimprove our operations.”

Anyone interested in receiving e-mail or text alerts from CopiahCounty EMA can contact Randle Drane at 601-894-1658.