by Adam Ghassemi
HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. – April 2014 has gone out with a major bang. Severe weather has plagued much of the South the last 48 hours. That's exactly why one mid-state city has considered at a new system to get crucial alerts out in just about any way imaginable.
A community can go from peaceful to devastated in a matter of moments. Many saw it happen when severe storms rolled across Tennessee Monday night, leaving two dead and countless lives torn apart.
"It just makes it all that much more urgent now,” said Hendersonville Fire Deputy Assistant Chief Bob Galoppi.
The decision Galoppi and other Hendersonville leaders were making Wednesday will decide how they alert the city’s 53,000 residents potentially deadly weather is approaching.
They said the answer is not outdoor sirens.
"Today the way they build homes double paned, triple paned windows. Even inside your own car you just don't hear them unless you're standing directly outside and underneath them,” Galoppi said.
That's why city leaders said they want a system to reach as many people as possible that automatically takes alerts from the National Weather Service and, based on someone's address, automatically calls, emails, texts or uses social media based on the way they want to be reached.
The three systems under consideration can even tweet you on Twitter or message you on Facebook.
The service also follows you when you leave home using your cell phone’s GPS technology.
"So if you're not at your home and you're in another part of the city and a warning comes out for that specific part of the city it'll notify you of where you're at,” he said.
They hope the new system will help target anyone from a young person on their smart phone to an elderly person at home, but they said the key is once people get the information it's up to them heed the warnings.
"The city can only protect you so far. The government as a whole can only protect you so far. If the individual does not take personal responsibility there's nothing you can do to protect that person,” Galoppi said.
The system would cost Hendersonville $30,000 a year, or less. It could also be expanded in the future to include other municipal alerts.
Portland and other mid-state communities already use similar systems.
We’re told firefighters will be available to visit any older people who need help enrolling once the system is online.