Severe weather and heavy rainfalls overtook this summer in the St. Louis area, including Monroe County, which also experienced high humidity and heat.
The Monroe County Emergency Management Agency attempts to prepare residents for these circumstances with severe weather alerts using a system known as Code Red. This system can better pinpoint residents affected by severe weather or other emergencies as they approach.
After calculating areas affected, the system sends out automated weather warnings via cell phone, text and email. Monroe County EMA director Ryan Weber said 4,088 cell phones in the county are in the system, while only 1,840 of those receive automatic weather warnings.
“I would like to see that much higher,” Weber said.
To sign up for this free service, residents can visit monroecountyil.org or their city’s website and click on “Code Red Weather Warning.” The site will ask for phone numbers and email addresses for which to send notifications. For those without computer access, call the EMA office at 939-8681, ext. 231.
“There have been several uses for it, and it’s been going pretty well,” Weber said of the Code Red service. “The responses I’ve been getting have been pretty positive.”
Code Red also keeps a database of landline numbers provided through the phone service. Code Red sends out basic emergency or general notifications to residents using that database. Government rules do not allow for severe weather alerts to go out to residents without their permission.
Those not who do not receive automated weather warnings do still receive messages for emergencies within the area, including missing person alerts, hazardous material situations, vicious dogs on the loose, and others. Automated weather warnings go out based on the National Weather Service’s polygon system.
To elaborate, the NWS issues warnings in the shape of a polygon to warn specific locations and people within a designated area of approaching severe weather.
Many polygon alerts went out for areas in the county for 2016 to the 1,840 numbers registered. These included five flash flood warnings, 14 severe thunderstorm warnings, one winter storm warning and one tornado warning. The Code Red website allows residents to choose which alerts to receive and how they will receive them.
According to the EMA, Code Red serves as an additional service to one municipalities already provide through a database of phone numbers and emails. Towns and villages send out alerts, such as boil water orders, power outages or storm debris pick-ups.
Registering from any municipal or county system will automatically put residents in the correct database based on where they live.