Three Rivers Planning and Development District, Inc. (TRPDD), located in Pontotoc, MS, has received a 2012 Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) for their implementation of CodeRED Weather Warning™.
CodeRED Weather Warning, a service of ECN, provides automated severe weather notifications just moments after an alert is issued by the National Weather Service (NWS). Notifications, which consist of telephone calls, email and text messages as determined by the subscriber, are delivered so quickly that alerts often arrive prior to any other public notifications and before television and weather radio broadcasts are aired, providing citizens extra time to prepare for the weather event.
The system notifies citizens in Calhoun, Chicksaw, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc and Union counties in Mississippi, in addition to thousands of other client communities nationwide, of severe thunderstorm, tornado and flash flood warnings. Three Rivers implemented the service in January and has a database of more than 30,000 telephone numbers of citizens who have opted-in to receive warnings.
“CodeRED Weather Warning has been a very beneficial service for the people of our region. We went through several years of some really bad tornadoes and this was the most effective method we found to bring a large scale notification system to everyone who wanted to be involved,” said John Byers, TRPDD Technical Assistance Director.
In 2011, Smithville, MS became the first town to register an EF5, the largest recordable tornado. The deadly tornado gave TRPDD the opportunity to improve the way they notified citizens and they sought a proven solution that could accurately and reliably alert their communities of any future severe weather events. TRPDD’s forward-thinking approach in implementing the program was designed to prevent any additional loss of lives and property, part of their commitment to proactively protect and inform citizens.
The system, which is based on the NWS’s polygon methodology, only contacts citizens in the path of projected weather, increasing relevance and reducing false alarms. CodeRED Weather Warning also uses heading and speed to determine the most vulnerable areas of the alert, notifying those most at risk first.
Prior to TRPDD selecting the CodeRED Weather Warning service, the agency relied on tornado sirens to notify residents of severe weather, which worked sufficiently to notify residents located in the city only. “We’re fairly rural and those sirens only reached a couple of miles, and they aren’t cost effective to put everywhere,” Byers said. “The big benefit of CodeRED Weather Warning is being able to reach the population outside of the city limits.”
According to NADO, their annual Innovation Award program has honored members who have had significant and positive impacts on their regions through innovative approaches to problem solving and program delivery. This year, 63 projects from 22 states were recognized for their achievement in a variety of program areas.
TRPDD’s CodeRED Weather Warning implementation will be recognized during the NADO’s 2012 Annual Training Conference, October 13-16 in Las Vegas, NV. Byers, along with other TRPDD staff, will have the opportunity to discuss details of their CodeRED Weather Warning implementation to other conference attendees.
About Three Rivers Planning and Development District
Headquartered in Pontotoc, MS, Three Rivers Planning and Development District (TRPDD) is a private, non-profit organization formed in 1971 by local government entities and business leaders to promote overall economic development, foster responsible short- and long-term community planning, and to aid general civic, social and economic development. TRPDD’s service area includes Calhoun, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc and Union counties, although services can reach beyond these. For more information, visit trpdd.com.
About National Association of Development Organizations
The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) provides advocacy, education, peer exchanges and research for the nation’s regional development organizations. The association and its members promote regional strategies, partnerships and solutions to strengthen the economic competitiveness and quality of life across America’s local communities. For more information, visit www.nado.org.