(Clarinda) -- Page County officials are joining the chorus of KMAland emergency managers urging residents to sign up for Alert Iowa.
Alert Iowa is the statewide emergency notification system that sends alerts to residents via cellphones or emails. In addition to weather alerts, Page County Emergency Management Coordinator Kris Grebert says the system also sends out other important notifications.
"We have a public signup page for any notifications that we need to put out to the public," said Grebert. "We can do boil orders, we can do stuff from each city or the county that need to get notifications out to the public. We used to do the Clarinda Academy escapee notifications--that will be one notification we don't have any more. Public health has notifications they've been putting out on COVID numbers and vaccinations, and things like that. So, we'll have another signup page where people that want those can sign up to get those."
Grebert and other officials are pushing for residents to register in the wake of system upgrades stemming from a change in Alert Iowa's contractor. Recently, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management announced Rave Mobile Safety as the system's new vendor. Grebert says changes were necessary because of issues with the previous company.
"We had some issues with it," he said. "We didn't have much control in the state or the counties that we wanted to. So, the state is changing to Rave, a different company. They're still calling it Alert Iowa, but RAVE will be running it for us now, so we need to re-sign up for that, so that people can still get the notifications they want through Rave."
Grebert says the lack of control was causing problems in how messages were sent out--and when.
"One of the biggest notifications we had was people were getting notifications at 3 in the morning for a severe blizzard warning that was going to take effect at 6 or 7 p.m. that night," said Grebert. "We didn't feel at 3 in the morning was justified--why not 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning. So now, I think now we can reset the hours, so that we can get the alerts sent out to us. Also, we can concentrate more on the area, rather than just the whole countywide area."
Residents may sign up for Alert Iowa through the state's Homeland Security website, or by logging onto smart911.com. Registration is also available through Page County's website. Kris Grebert made his comments on KMA's "Morning Line" program. You can hear the full interview here: