Message system worthy part of weather awareness

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 20, 2009

While texting behind the wheel is an obviously dangerous habit,texting in other circumstances can be a valuable tool in theprotection of lives and property.

A weather alert texting and e-mail system set up in CopiahCounty offers insight into the potential benefits when MotherNature unleashes her fury on an area. When a storm rolled thoughthe county last Sunday, around 120 subscribers under the freesystem were aware and able to take precautions if they had beenwarranted.

Copiah County Emergency Management Agency Director Randle Dranesaid the e-mail portion of the system provides for more advancednotice while the text message portion is more timely as weatherevents occur. Regardless of delivery method, the system representsa step forward in the area of weather alert notifications and isone that officials in other counties should pursue.

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The system in Copiah County, though, is only one facet of whatshould be a comprehensive plan for notifying citizens ofweather-related events.

Some facets, while still valuable, are flawed.

Not everyone has instant access to a computer for e-mailnotifications, or have texting capabilities on their cell phones.And some elderly cell phone users may not have the physical abilityto manipulate their devices for text message reading.

Weather radios are fine tools for mass communications. But thosehave to be purchased, and some people may not see the benefits ofowning such devices.

A weather siren system, with full coverage of an area, continuesto offer the best chance for citizens to be more aware when badweather threatens. That system should be the foundation of weatherawareness, while weather radios, e-mails and text messages servingas supplements in the battle to protect life and limb inthreatening times.