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Alerts warn of severe weather

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By John Overby

Spring is just around the corner, and severe weather will not be far behind.

Last year, Washington County purchased a system that allowed its residents to be fully prepared for such events.

The county previously had a one-call system to inform its inhabitants about local news, such as telling them that garbage pickup was canceled or that a road had been closed, but until this system was put into place, a warning for severe weather was never an option.

And now that it is being offered, Washington County Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Devine hopes to reach as many local residents as possible.

While 1,960 of WC citizens are currently signed up, Devine feels that it is not sufficient.

“The ones we have signed up for this is not nearly enough,” Devine said. “We want to be able to notify as many people as we can. The more, the better.”

Devine noted that one of the most important features of the system is that, if severe weather is only happening in one end of the county, only those residents who are affected will be notified.

And each person who signs up also gets to decide the type of severe weather they are notified about.

The system, which is free of charge to WC residents, has 14 available warnings in all, divided evenly between weather watches (blizzard, excessive heat, flash flood, flood, severe thunderstorm, tornado and winter storm) and weather warnings (tornado, winter storm, earthquake, flash flood, flood, ice storm and severe thunderstorm).

There are three ways someone can receive their alerts: e-mail, text or calls.

However, those who receive voice call updates will not receive warnings for weather watches.

Devine said that the county wanted to reserve voice calls for weather warnings so that users did not get upset at the frequency of calls and cancel the service.

“You won’t be getting a ton of calls on every little thing,” Devine said. “We really limited the number of voice calls so that we weren’t inundating a lot of people with them.”

To sign up, go to www.washingtoncountyky.com and click on the link to receive emergency notifications on the home page.

From there, users will be taken to a screen that will ask for your name, how you would like to be notified, what events you would like to be notified about and your street address (so that the system will know when to contact you).