Officials: Sign up before next emergency
It’s a question that’s always asked following major events like the Cascade Fire: How things could have been handled differently?
During the fire, strong winds knocked down power lines compromising the effectiveness of electronic alerts. And then people asked about older emergency warning systems, such as sirens. There aren’t any sirens in Yuba County.
Russ Brown, the Yuba County spokesman, said older technology, like sirens, also have problems.
“The siren discussion comes up after all types of emergencies – flood and fire alike,” Brown said. “Sirens are a very, very expensive endeavor.”
He said, aside from the expense, terrain in the foothills can dramatically reduce the effectiveness of sirens and modern technological solutions are more cost effective and reach just as many people.
But, Yuba County residents need to sign up for emergency alerts. Yuba County employs the Code RED system and Sutter County uses the Nixle system for emergency alerts.
“The Code RED system worked as it was designed,” Brown said. “However, its effectiveness can be compromised by such things as fires destroying communications cables, but even before that, people need to take the time to sign up to use it.”
He said mountainous regions always present a challenge for setting up and maintaining alerts to residents, which is why first responders play such an important role.
“The Cascade Fire was driven by fierce winds that took down some communications lines from the very start, which is always a possibility in such an emergency,” Brown said. “That is why the initial act of first responders is always to go door-to-door alerting residents.”
Both Yuba and Sutter counties have websites that offer resources to help people prepare for disasters that are specific to their county. They can also sign up for the emergency alerts online.
“Residents can go to BePreparedYuba.org and click on the “Stay Connected” button to sign up,” Brown said. “It’s actually a very simple registration process through a service called Code Red, and there is no cost to residents.
Brown said anyone needing assistance with the registration process can call the Yuba County Office of Emergency Services at 749-5420 and someone will walk them through the process.
“Yuba County has been in the application process through FEMA for participating in a program that pushes out emergency notifications to specific regions, regardless of whether people have signed up for anything,” Brown said. “The system is called IPAWS - Integrated Public Alert & Warning System.”
Yuba County Office of Emergency Services
County of Sutter Office of Emergency Management