WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) - If severe weather happens, people living in Walker County now have a new way of being warned. It's an emergency alert system known as "reverse 911."
Several counties in our area have had the system in place for years, and Walker County officials say they've been trying to get it for years.
"This is, I guess, the fruits of our labor," Walker County Emergency Management Operation Chief Curtis Creekmur said.
Creekmur says without the alert system, dispatchers have had call overload during times of severe weather.
"We're swamped with calls, power outages, emergency calls, and general public information calls. We answer for every department," Creekmur said.
With the reverse 911 system in place as of this month, whenever the National Weather Service puts out a watch, an automated call goes out to people's phones, or you can opt for email or text.
"It eases up one less task that we have to do during an emergency," Creekmur said.
So far, around 1,700 have signed up, but around 26,000 households with land lines were automatically put in. The notifications go out to people only in the area where the emergency is happening-- not everybody all the time.
"It's great, our community has always been in need of reverse 911," Creekmur said.
It can also notify people not from the area, and not signed up, for major weather events.
"When you come through our county and you're not associated with our software and our community, and you're just visiting, if you're in that area of a tower that a message went out on, it will automatically call and send it to your phone," Creekmur said.
He says it will also be used to help law enforcement. For example: if a child goes missing, people living in that area will know to be on the lookout.
The nearly $30,000 system is being funded through state and FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grants.
To sign up for Walker County's reverse 911, follow this link.