Residents with Cell, Unlisted Numbers Must Register…
With the continuing threat of unstable weather conditions, the City of Hillsboro is prepared to keep its citizens up to date on weather happenings with its CodeRED system. The phone-based, Internet-integrated system is capable of delivering customized, prerecorded emergency messages to homes and businesses. The system, which is a division of Emergency Communications Network, Inc., can make up to 60,000 calls per hour. It takes just a couple of minutes to call all the numbers currently in the system for Hillsboro and its extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The system was first used in the summer of 2005 as Hurricane Rita approached the Texas coast and Central Texas prepared for an influx of evacuees. It has since been used several times to notify citizens of water outage due to line breaks. But one of its primary usages when it was approved by the city council was to notify citizens of approaching severe weather. The civil defense sirens, which were used for years, have fallen into disrepair, plus they provided poor coverage unless residents were outside their homes. Under the old system, the sirens would cycle if a tornado was approaching the city or there would be a solid tone if a tornado was on the ground inside the city limits.
According to Hillsboro Director of Public Safety, Chief Tony Cain, the system gives the fire department and the police department more latitude in notifying citizens about all severe weather conditions, not just tornadoes.
All that is necessary is a working telephone system in a home or business. Chief Cain encourages residents to have an old-fashioned corded telephone in their home that requires no electricity. “There are weak links in every system. Without power most cordless phones will not work. “Without a tower, cell phones will not work either, but this system allows the best method available for notification,” Chief said at the time it was approved.
In addition to weather situations, it can be used to notify citizens of chemical spills, missing children or elderly, drinking-water contamination or street closures. It is also geographically based, and calls may be made to a single household, city block, a neighborhood or the entire city, as determined by the emergency. “If public works has to take the downtown water tower out of service, only residents served by that tower can be notified,” Chief Cain points out.
Residents are reminded that if they have an unlisted telephone number or only use a cell phone, those numbers must be registered with the city in order to receive CodeRED calls. Go to the city’s Internet website at www.hillsborotx.org, click on “Departments,” then on “Fire/Rescue,” then on “CodeRED” and there will be a registration link.
Residents without access to Internet service can contact Communications Supervisor, Sabrina Leal, at 254-582-8406 for registration assistance. Please leave a message if necessary and your call will be returned. Officials stressed that if numbers are not registered, residents cannot receive the emergency notification calls. The city has a five-year contract with the provider of the system at a cost of $25,000.