City’s Emergency Notification System – Code Red

Hurricane season is upon us, gently, so far. But in just in case there’s something you need to know right away—in your neighborhood or city-wide—about the weather or anything else of immediate importance—Code Red has your number.

Code Red is the emergency notification system Mount Dora has had in place since 2013.  It all started with a utility incident that impacted a neighborhood. “We realized that we didn’t have an efficient and effective way to communicate with residents,” says Kelda Senior, the city’s communications officer.

Council discussed the matter and asked staff to come back with proposals. They talked to peers in surrounding cities, looking at reverse-911 and other alert systems. Based on cost, functionality and usage, Code Red Community Notification System was the clear winner.

Code Red allows the city to have a direct line to residents in case of an emergency—evacuation notices, boil water notices, bio-terrorism alerts and missing child reports. So far, Code Red has been used only several times in the city. Once was when a water main broke on Lincoln Avenue creating a boil-water alert.

This spring, the city police asked to put out a Code Red, alerting residents of a phone scam from individuals calling from what appeared to be police numbers, telling residents that they might be facing arrest if they didn’t pay up. The alert first went out to the Country Club of Mount Dora, and then widened to the entire city.

Although the city’s Fire Chief, Skip Kerkhof, is the keeper of the city’s emergency plan, the city manager actually makes the decision to deploy the system.  So far, response from residents have been positive, Senior says. “Management was very clear about using the system only for special situations.”

Residents’ phone numbers are supplied by utility bill accounts. Not in the system are residents who have a cell phone as their home phone, possess an unlisted, unpublished or private number, or have a new number. There’s a link on the city’s home page where residents and business owners can enter this contact contact information, as well as additional phone and text messaging numbers and email addresses.

Photo Credit: SyFy Network, Sharknado
Photo Credit: SyFy Network, Sharknado

Residents can also opt out from the system if they choose.

All is quiet now. But you never know.

David Cohea, Writer (david@mountdoracitizen.com)