Only 20 percent of county residents signed up to receive emergency alerts
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Routt County officials are getting creative to entice more people to sign up to receive emergency alerts.
Emergency Communications Manager Jason Nettles said only about 20 percent of Routt County residents are signed up to receive alerts currently.
“That really has been the biggest challenge,” Nettles said.
Routt County Emergency Management has attended the Routt County Fair, Main Street Steamboat Springs Farmers Market and other public events urging people to sign up by visiting routtcountyalerts.com.
The alert system has been used to notify people tthe county’s 911 system was down, a boil order had been issued in Yampa, an elderly person was missing and a pre-evacuation order had been issued in connection with the Deep Creek Fire.
Emergency Management Director David “Mo” DeMorat said the pre-evacuation alert was only sent to people in the pre-evacuation area. Of the 25 homes in the pre-evacuation area, only one home was signed up to receive Routt County Alerts.
“The others likely weren’t registered,” DeMorat said.
People can choose to receive alerts in about 10 different ways, ranging from emails to text messages.
The county already has most land lines in its system, but Routt County Alerts does not have a database populated automatically with cellphone numbers and email addresses.
The county has also made tweaks to the alert system since its inception.
During the winter, people got an alert at 4 a.m. that was automatically pushed out by the National Weather Service via the Routt County Alerts system. The alert was about a possible storm a couple days away, and some found the early-morning alert annoying and unnecessary.
“We must of fielded a dozen calls of people saying, ‘Get me off this thing,’” DeMorat said.
Fixes were made to the system to prevent future early-morning alerts that aren’t related to an immediate threat.
In addition to wanting to get more people signed up for alerts, the county has met with local agencies like the Routt County Council on Aging and Integrated Communities to make sure their clients receive the alerts.
“Some of my clients don’t answer the phone,” Council on Aging Assistant Director April Sigman said. “They don’t have family. Most of them don’t have computers.”
Key people in the community like Sigman are now receiving all of the alerts the county sends out, and not just those that impact their homes and workplaces.
That way, the organizations can disseminate the information in the most effective way to their clients.
Integrated Community Executive Director Sheila Henderson said her organization will be posting the alerts on Facebook.
“That’s what we utilize, and it seems to work,” Henderson.
The Steamboat Pilot & Today will also be posting the alerts through its social media channels, websites and separate alert systems.
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