Clay County could enact a new emergency alert system

CLAY COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Pretty soon your cell phone could be a lifeline when severe weather strikes.

Now that ninety-one percent of Americans have a cell phone, Clay County emergency officials believe a phone-based warning system would quickly reach far more people than one tornado siren.

This service instantly messages severe weather alerts to customers.

Emergency officials in Rector are raving over the success of their newly-added cell phone alert system.

Assistant Fire Chief Steven Sigsby was away on vacation when the last round of tornadoes hit, but still saw the benefits of the new alert system.

"It works very was about midnight and our cell phones went off within just a few seconds of each other and woke us up in the motel. It was the alert system letting us know there was a tornado warning for Clay County."

As cell phones become increasingly popular, officials are looking at their life-saving potential.

A cell signal can reach customers from up to twenty-five miles from the tower.

You can hear a siren up to two miles away as long as your outside.

And the city of Piggott spans just over five square miles.

Piggott's Emergency Management Coordinator Jamie Cluck thinks this alert system could be crucial in times of crisis.

"It usually takes about less than two minutes get a notification out. You can do a notification the same way they get out. You can do it by text or email, or pick up the phone and call it and let it know. It can be your voice, so the main principle is to get the notification...We only have one siren and those are outdoor warning systems. We need four, at least three to four more in the city."

For residents of Rector, just go to city hall and register for the alert system.

Based on the positive feedback, Piggott officials would like to employ this cell phone service by December.

They hope that soon, all Clay County residents will have the option to register their information and begin receiving e-mails, calls, and texts.

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