A CodeRED program that would automatically alert Brown County residents by telephone of severe weather warnings from the National Weather Service received a warm reception from county commissioners Monday, but discussions will be needed with City of Brownwood and City of Early officials whose communities are already CodeRED clients before it advances.
Brian Davis, sales consultant with CodeRED, told commissioners that the weather warning system is different from the service to which Brownwood subscribes, because calls are triggered automatically without orders from governmental officials. In addition, households “opt in” to the system by telling local officials they want to be called.
“The CodeRED weather warning system is amazing,” Davis told commissioners. “We know it saves lives. We’ve got hundreds of letters telling us and thanking us.”
Under the current CodeRED program in Brownwood and Early, municipal officials must send out alerts, but those systems can also be used for other purposes. Those can include notifying residents of a water outage, alerting off-duty firefighters of an emergency request to come to work and other specific notification needs.
Such services are part of the basic CodeRED system, Davis said. The weather warning has only recently become available to local governments. Previously, its subscribers have primarily been television stations who marketed the service to their viewers as part of a weather package, promoted on their Web sites, he said.
In recent weeks, Davis said, the City of Early has added the weather warning service to its CodeRED plan.
CodeRED is a computer-based system of telephone numbers that can be called with a recording announcement. It is capable of calling 1,000 numbers in a minute, Davis said.
City of Brownwood Emergency Management Coordinator James Cook and Fire Chief Del Albright attended Monday’s commissioners meeting and offered details on the Brownwood system.
Davis said the weather warning system specifically targets households directly in the path of the weather service’s warnings, so homes that don’t need to be called aren’t bothered. He told of a warning in Florida where two CodeRED representatives live three blocks apart. One received a call during a bout of severe weather, but the other didn’t, because his home wasn’t in the direct track a severe storm.
Brown County Judge Ray West said it’s possible the two cities and Brown County, and perhaps the City of Bangs, could work out an interlocal agreement in which the county is the CodeRED subscriber while being reimbursed by cities.
Davis said the entire county could be under the weather warning service for $15,000 a year. It could be covered by both CodeRED programs for $22,500.
Brownwood, which was one of the first CodeRED cities in Texas, pays $5,000 a year. The city could add the weather warning itself for half the current rate, or $7,500.
Early is currently paying $7,500 for both programs, Davis said.