Whether it’s a tornado, a severe storm, a flood, a rash of burglaries or even a flu pandemic, a new county-wide mass notification system will keep residents attuned to what’s going on.
The Howard County Sheriff Department launched its mass notification system this week.
Residents who sign up for the system through the sheriff department will be alerted by phone to any impending dangers, like the Nov. 17 tornado.
"I think it's a great idea," Debra Kauble, whose home on Quail Run Drive was demolished by a tornado that day.
"Actually our phone was the reason why we went in the closet. My husband and I have iPhones with a weather alert app. Both of our phones went off at the same time. We thought we better get our critters and get in the closet. Within a few minutes our house was hit. Had we not heeded that warning, we would be dead. It was a nightmare. I haven't got over it yet."
With the new system, Kauble will be notified by the county of serious threats.
"I think it's a great idea," she said. "I will be one first ones to sign up for it."
Sheriff Steve Rogers said former Howard County Emergency Management Agency Director Larry Smith came up with the idea several years ago, but it never took hold until recently.
“The technology was just being developed and the system we were looking at back then was not compatible with what we wanted done,” Rogers said.
Rogers said officials came across a company named Everbridge, which set up notification systems during the Boston Marathon bombing and Hurricane Sandy.
“This is something we wanted and Everbridge has worked so well in keeping people notified,” he said.
Cathy Kanable, a city worker and resident of East Wheeler Street, said when the Nov. 17 tornado touched down near her home, she had no clue it was that close.