from the News Star- http://www.thenewsstar.com/article/20130418/NEWS01/304180342/Ouachita-rolling-out-warning-system
Ouachita rolling out warning system
Written by Scott Rogers
Apr. 17 thenewsstar.com
Ouachita Parish Homeland Security officials continue to roll out the ALERT FM system to provide local residents an early warning system for severe weather.
The department began implementing the ALERT FM sys tem this year after parish officials learned it couldn't afford a severe weather siren warning system.
In late 2011, Ouachita Parish Homeland Security started looking into a project to install towers equipped with sirens throughout the parish that would activate in dangerous weather.
That project involved installing 60 towers in Ouachita Parish — 14 in Monroe, another six in West Monroe and the rest would be scattered throughout the parish.
The expected cost was $2 million for the purchase of equipment and installation of the 60 towers, plus weekly maintenance costs.
That plan was scrapped last year because it was cost prohibitive.
"It's not going to happen in the foreseeable future. It's a great idea, but it's too costly, and we don't have the money to pay for it," said Ouachita Parish Homeland Security assistant director Artice Dowdy.
He said because residents are spread out through Ouachita Parish, it was possible 60 towers wouldn't be enough to cover the entire parish.
Dowdy believes the ALERT FM system is a good alternative and believes it will provide a number of benefits once fully implemented.
ALERT FM allows the Office of Homeland Security to notify residents of emergency events via ALERT FM receivers and smartphone applications for Apple IOS and Google Android.
Alerts can include severe weather warnings, homeland security notices, hurricane evacuation instructions, utility notices, plant or school closings and traffic alerts.
To receive public information such as school closings, road closures, weather warnings or weather instructions, residents will need to purchase an ALERT FM receiver or download the ALERT FM application on their smartphones.
ALERT FM receivers are small, lightweight devices that receive messages using the data subcarrier of local FM radio stations.
ALERT FM receivers can be purchased for about $40. The device is smaller than most smartphones. They can be purchased at Tyner-Petrus Hardware in Monroe and West Monroe or ordered at www.alertfm.com.
The Apple application is available for free download from the Apple App Store. The Android free version is available in the Google Play Store.
The state provided the Ouachita Parish Office of Homeland Security with 50 receivers, which will be given to schools.
Ouachita_rolling_out_warning_system.pdf (3.30 kb)