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by Rick Wimberly: Best practices for emergency notification programs

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CMAS/WEA Used Extensively for Hurricane Sandy
October 31, 2012
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It appears as if CMAS/WEA alerts were widely and successfully used throughout Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the northeast.  Our sources at FEMA IPAWS and the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed alerts were issued all along the eastern seaboard in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

The alerts included blizzard warnings, flash flood warnings, mandatory evacuations, and shelter-in-place messages depending on the location. 

It’s interesting to see how agencies dealt with the 90-character message limitation.  Here are a few examples:

  • "Blizzard Warning this area til 6:00 PM EDT Tue. Prepare. Avoid Travel. Check media. –NWS"
  • "Go indoors immediately and remain inside. DO NOT DRIVE. Call 9-1-1 for emergencies only."
  • "Flash Flood Warning this area til 3:45 PM EDT. Avoid flood areas. Check local media. –NWS"

From comments on Twitter and other public sites, it seems the emergency messages were generally welcomed by citizens, even if some uncertainty existed as to how these were delivered.  It’s exciting to see this technology being used in practical ways despite the tragic circumstances. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the emergency managers, first responders, healthcare providers, and citizens during this extremely difficult time.




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