BILINGS - While continuing to clean up after Sunday night's powerful hail storm, many are wondering if Yellowstone County's new emergency notification service, CodeRed, worked correctly.
County emergency officials say it did, but few in Yellowstone County are registered for the service.
“If you have the app downloaded and you aren't registered for weather alerts, you will not receive them," K.C. Williams, the county's Department of Emergency Services Coordinator, said Tuesday. "If they did register their phone number but didn't register for the alerts, then it's not going to send you an alert because you haven't told it to please send you an alert. Or, as I found with some people in the southern part of the city or other parts of the county, they registered for it, but they were not in the warned area.
“I have found the easiest way to do it is to text the word Yellowstone to 99411 and just follow the instructions," he added.
CodeRed is a system that sends phone calls, text messages, emails and social media posts to alert residents of missing persons, natural disasters, and other threats. Yellowstone County launched the service in April, replacing the old siren system that had operated for decades.
Williams said a little over 200 people have signed up for the weather alerts. During Sunday's storm, about 197 of those who have signed up for alerts did receive them.
“The storm we had Sunday night, if you were not in the polygon the National Weather Service drew on their map, not the one that shows up on television, the one that they drew when the send the message out, you're not going to be included in that message," he said.
So what does it take? Who can send out these alerts?
“If law enforcement, fire, emergency services contacts and says 'we need to evacuate' or 'we need to notify people,' then we can say 'who do you want to notify? Who do you want evacuated?' and it only takes us about one minute," says Williams.