Hurricane season is still months away, but it is never too early to prepare. For people in St Johns County, that means signing up for a new emergency alert system.
It replaces the Code Red System residents are already familiar with. Emergency Management says original contact information from the Code Red system will not transfer to the new statement. To receive alerts, people must sign up themselves online.
As soon as you drive onto St. Johns County Emergency Management property, you're greeted with the question, are you storm ready? With the launch of its new alert notification system, St. Johns County officials want you to move fast. Kelly Wilson is the county's emergency management coordinator.
"When we order an evacuation, we need you to start moving," Wilson said. "We need you to start moving, you know, it's impending."
Wilson says the new system will help neighbors stay ahead of things including, but not limited to road closures, missing people, water advisories, or public safety threats.
When an emergency comes down, emergency management workers are working to get the word out to you and your neighbors. When neighbors sign up, they will be able to choose how they want to be notified. That can be through a phone call to their home, business, or mobile. Text messages and emails are options as well.
Wilson says specific emergencies can be targeted to related neighborhoods as well.
"If we have a missing person in a particular neighborhood, we will be able to contact folks just in that neighborhood," Wilson said. "In an evacuation, we will only contact the folks that are inside the evacuation zone that we're issuing the evacuation for."
Wilson says one option neighbors will have is whether they want to receive a weather alert. She says when they sign up, they will get the option to choose if and what severe weather warnings they're interested in receiving. Once those advisories are issued by the National Weather Service Jacksonville, neighbors will receive the phone call, text message, or email they signed up for.
Wilson wants to remind people that when an emergency looms, the sooner neighbors know, the faster you can react.
"These seconds and minutes count," Wilson said. "We can get to you immediately this way."
Wilson also says some people have called asking if there is any chance their information will be sold or if they will be flooded with robocalls.
She says this is not the case at all. If neighbors receive a notification from Emergency Management, it will solely be in the event of a public safety emergency.