Connecticut unveils statewide alert system

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -- Connecticut is rolling out a new way for people to stay informed in case of emergencies.

The state has a new emergency notification system that works in a similar fashion to Reverse 911 to reach out to the public.

Click here to sign up for the system

When a tornado rolled through Wethersfield a little more than a year ago, there was a great deal of confusion as the town began the process of recovery. Hearing that the state will soon make emergency communications easier with the Everbridge System is good news to Wethersfield's Andy Bykowski.

"I think we're all pretty much connected to e-mail and that would be a good way, quick," Bykowski said.

The system builds a database and allows emergency officials a way to reach out to thousands of people in a short period of time. Connecticut is the first state in the country to put such a system in place statewide.

"In preparations for either man-made or natural disasters, we ask our citizens to do three things: get a kit, make a plan and stay informed," said Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security Peter Boynton. "Today's announcement gets to that third item: stay informed."

Officials gave the example of recent deadly flash floods that struck an Arkansas campground. Warnings over the television were useless in that case, but text messages and phone calls may have saved lives.

"Those people didn't have TV. This system allows people to stay informed even when you're not at home, even when you're not in your car. It does require something: You have to register," Boynton said.

To register, users enter the addresses they're interested in, such as their home, work, child's school or day care. The user must also provide contact information for the state to quickly reach them.

"If you want to know what local and state officials want you to do, whether it's to evacuate or stay in place, then you must sign up," said Lt. J. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police.