In southwest Oklahoma, the city of Marlow was hit by a severe ice storm – a combination of freezing rain and wind. The winter wallop may have left the city without power but not without important information. Residents of Marlow were kept informed throughout the 13 day ordeal with the city’s use of CodeRED.
Marlow’s Emergency Management Director, Jerome McCalvin, was able to send messages during the entire power outage. “We had three inches of ice everywhere and at least 2,500 homes and businesses were without power. We knew that using CodeRED would be the perfect way to keep citizens informed about daily progress. CodeRED allowed us to quickly deliver, up-to-date, accurate information which instilled faith and hope in our residents,” said McCalvin.
“Because we kept everyone up to date with information, calls into our offices from residents with questions and concerns were reduced dramatically. Reduced call volume allowed staff to focus on other priorities related to thousands of people without power,” he noted.
At the end of the 13 day outage the city of Marlow used CodeRED to inform residents that power was restored. “Because they were without power many residents left town. An elderly lady drove four hours away to stay with family in Dallas, Texas. She received all of the CodeRED calls while in Dallas including the notification about power being restored. After she returned home to Marlow, the 80-year-old woman came to our offices and thanked us for the messages delivered to her phone while she was away. I am convinced that by phone, text and email messages, CodeRED can contact anyone even if they’re 4 hours away. Marlow residents talk about CodeRED at the local coffee shop and the local pharmacy is encouraging all of their customers to sign up,” McCalvin said.
McCalvin said before choosing CodeRED, they looked at many options but they all had limitations. “CodeRED was better than anything else I found. It’s easy to use. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to launch a CodeRED notification and you can do it from anywhere. During the power outage I launched one of the campaigns from my cell phone when I was 50 miles away. Our city manager called me to say that she got the message, she couldn’t believe that I used my cell phone and how far away I was when I launched the call,” McCalvin said.
Recently a meeting was held to discuss how Marlow and other cities in Stephens County, Oklahoma handled the emergencies related to the ice storm. “At the meeting CodeRED was enthusiastically praised as a great strength. During the meeting, the Stephens County Sheriff told all in attendance that the city of Marlow ‘set the bar’ on emergency communication,” said McCalvin. “We could not have made it through the ice storm and power outage without CodeRED.”
CodeRED is provided at no cost to the residents of Marlow. The city was the recipient of a Justice Affairs Grant (JAG). The JAG program is a partnership among federal, state and local governments to create safer communities. “If we had not received the grant we would have found another way to purchase CodeRED. We want to take care of people in Marlow,” added McCalvin.