By NIKKI YOUNK
FLORENCE, Wis. - Disasters can strike anywhere and anytime. With the new CodeRED service, residents of Florence County will be prepared for a wide variety of emergency scenarios.
Nikki Younk/Daily News Photo
Chief Deputy David Gribble checks the CodeRED website from the dispatchers’ station in the Florence County Sheriff’s Department. CodeRED will allow dispatchers to send voice and text alerts about emergency situations to Florence County residents.
CodeRED is a web-based service that allows officials to send alerts regarding severe weather, evacuation notices, school closings, public health issues, and much more.
Citizens who sign up to receive alerts can be notified by phone, text, or e-mail when an emergency arises.
David Gribble, chief deputy with the Florence County Sheriff's Department, said that he hopes to have the service fully operational by early July.
Specific information on how to register to receive alerts will be available in the coming weeks.
According to Gribble, CodeRED will be a valuable tool for the sheriff's department.
"When we did the school shooting training in August, one of the areas to improve upon was letting residents around the school know what to do," Gribble explained. "With CodeRED, we can tell them to evacuate or shelter in place."
However, the sheriff's department is not the only agency that will benefit.
The Florence School District, Florence Utilities, and various county offices will also have the ability to send out alerts. Alerts about severe weather will come directly from the National Weather Service.
Gribble added that alerts can either be sent to residents throughout the county or to residents of a specific area of the county.
For example, if there is a power outage on one block in downtown Florence, only residents of that area will be notified.
Also, seasonal residents can choose to receive alerts for the entire year or for only the months they live in the county.
There is no cost to residents who sign up for alerts.
The Florence County Board of Supervisors recently signed a service agreement with CodeRED at a cost of $2,762 for the remainder of 2013. For 2014 and beyond, the annual cost will be $3,826.
Board Chair Jeanette Bomberg said that it is important for Florence County residents to be informed of situations that could affect their safety.
"This will benefit every single person in Florence County," she said. "It's really a win-win situation."
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.