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County opens emergency alert system to all residents

The Cape Girardeau County Office of Emergency Management has opened up its Rave Alert system to all county residents and is making a public push to get thousands of residents signed up over the coming year.

The Rave Notification System allows the office to send emergency messages to county residents through text messages, e-mails or voice messages. The alerts include weather warnings sent by the National Weather Service, road closures, siren testing reminders and the closing of county offices.

Sam Herndon, emergency management deputy director, said the county has been using the alerts since 2016, but the system was previously only used to communicate with county employees.

Herndon said the county is currently using social media like Facebook to communicate with residents, but during emergency situations, more immediate communication is necessary.

“This system allows us to get these warnings and watches out to the community a lot quicker and a lot easier,” Herndon said. “Not everybody checks Facebook all the time, but most people get text messages or e-mails fairly quickly.”

There are currently only 382 people signed up for the alerts, but Herndon said they hope once the office starts promoting the system, both online and at public events, more county residents will sign up.

“It’s super easy to use,” Herndon said. “It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to sign up and there’s no maintenance once you’re signed up. If you move or no longer want to receive alerts, you can just call us and we’ll take you off the list.”

Once more residents are signed up, Herndon said they will use more features of the system. After severe weather, the county could ask those who get the alerts if there was any storm damage where they are or if anyone was injured. The county could then use those responses to help residents.

“Right now, with only 380 people, we are going to miss a lot of the damage,” Herndon said. “But when it gets to thousands of people in the county, we are going to be able to use that part of the system a lot more.”

County residents can sign up by visiting www.getrave.com and searching for “Cape Girardeau County MO EMA.”

After creating a free account and confirming their e-mail or mobile phone number, residents can opt-in to get emergency alert notification and general county alerts. Herndon suggests signing up for both lists to receive the most up-to-date information.

For any questions about the alerts or how to set up, contact Herndon at 573-204-2572 or saherndon@cape-county.us.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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