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50 cents may save your life

Crawford EMA director encourages residents to sign up for message system

February 25, 2009
Crawford County Emergency Management Agency Director Kent Barrow wants residents to be in touch, even in an emergency.

During the recent ice storm, thousands of people across the county were without power, most for several days. However, many still had phone service and were kept informed by a system some didn't know even existed: the Crawford County SchoolMessenger.

The system, operated by the Crawford County Community School Corp., uses a computer to notify parents of changes of things like school cancellations, delays, early dismissals, changes in bus routes or any other information the corporation needs to get to families who have children enrolled in its schools.

But the system can also be used for other purposes, like important emergency information that was sent to residents during the ice storm.

"A lot of people now have cell phones," Barrow said, "but there are times, like during a tornado or during high winds, when cell phone towers are damaged or may be blown down. Also, if electrical power is lost, cell phone batteries soon run down.

"Often, in an emergency, phone service still works in many areas of the county, and the SchoolMessenger system can be utilized to get information to people, such as where shelters are located, what roads or bridges are closed and where to go if there is a medical problem. The system can be a lifesaver."

Barrow said anyone wanting to add their name to the list of people the computer will notify in an emergency can do so for 50 cents per name. And there can be two names per household added to the list.

To be added to the list, send your name, address and phone number to Kent Barrow, P.O. Box 316, English, IN 47118.

"Remember, this is for emergencies only," Barrow said. "And I would like to receive the information (names, phone numbers and addresses) within the next couple of weeks. This is a great system. I can call Dr. (Mark) Eastridge, the school superintendent, wherever he is, and he can add an emergency to the message system, even by cell phone."

Barrow has asked the county council to pay the 50 cents per name, but, so far, it hasn't acted on the request.

Barrow has also been working with Tina Bowman of the Crawford County Solid Waste Management District, Karen Cook of the American Red Cross and others to promote emergency preparedness at elderly housing units in Milltown, Marengo and English.

"We will also be doing it for schools and church groups," Barrow said. "We are trying to educate and inform people about being able to take care of themselves for at least 72 hours during an emergency, like an earthquake, snow, ice, tornado, wind or flooding. It really helps to be prepared."

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    Emergency Phone System
    February 26, 2009 | 09:02 AM

    This seems like delusional thinking: a storm system which could take down power lines and cell towers somehow leaves the phone lines alone...? They're on the same poles in the same locations as the power lines. I applaud Barrow for trying to address the situation with an inexpensive resource, but phone service was also out for hundreds of residents in the last ice storm despite the "many" that Barrow says still had it.

Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
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