Emergency Notification System
In 2011, Yorktown received a $20,000 grant from Entergy to set up an Emergency Notification System.
The system enables the Town to communicate with residents and businesses during times of emergency, such as power outages, flooding, road closings, water main breaks, weather concerns, etc. (The Lakeland and Yorktown school districts use this type of system to notify parents of school closings.)
Residents and businesses can choose to receive messages by land line phone, cell phone, email or text message. They can also choose to "opt out" of the system. More information about the system (Deltalert) is available on the Town's web site, www.yorktownny.org.
The system became operational in October, 2011 after the Town purchased an initial listing of approximately 4,500 land line phone numbers. Announcements were also made at subsequent Town Board meetings inviting residents and businesses to add desired cell phone numbers and email addresses and choose how many different ways they wanted to receive the communications.
The system was used during the October 29th Halloween snow storm to provide information about emergency shelters, which parts of town had power, and the availability of dry ice.
In November, 2011, in order to add missing phone numbers to the systemís database, the Town Board authorized the Supervisor to enter into a contract with Verizon to purchase the company's proprietary 911 emergency list of 19,000 Yorktown land line listings. As of December 31,2011, the contract was not ready for the outgoing Supervisor's signature.
What's been happening since 2011
In January, 2012 when former Supervisor Susan Siegel inquired about the status of the Verizon contract, she was told that some members of the new Town Board were not interested in obtaining the Verizon list and instead preferred to use the remaining Entergy grant funds to establish an Emergency Command Center, an idea that dated back to 2008.
In September, 2012, the Board was asked if it planned to renew the one year Emergency Notification System contract that had expired in August. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the Town was "reviewing its options."
October/November, 2012: Hurricane Sandy. After the storm, the Emergency Notification System was activated once, (Even though the contract had not been renewed, the vendor had not cancelled the account.)
February 7: The system was activated with a message advising residents to tune in to Channel 20/33 to view a press conference the Supervisor was holding later that day about storm preparations.
February 19: During the Town Board meeting, Susan Siegel asked if the February 7 message had been sent by Deltalert or another company and whether the Town had ever purchased the Verzon 911 list. No one on the Town Board responded to her questions. She also suggested that emergency messages be sent by text and email in additional to phone calls.
April 9. The Board discussed the use of three possible systems: Code Red, Deltalert, the system used in 2011, and Nixtel, a free service that allows people to sign up for notifications that is operated by the Police Department.During Hurricane Sandy, the Town used the school system's notification system (it was not clear if the Town used both Yorktown and Lakeland systems, or only one), but Councilman Paganelli noted that only households with children in the schools would be on the districts' lists.
The Board also discussed whether the notification system should be based solely on people signing up for the service or whether the town should purchase the Verizon 911 emergency list and let people opt out of the system if they did not want to receive calls. There was confusion about the costs involved and no decisions were made.
(Note: it was not revealed at the meeting that Deltalert had been acquired by Code Red.)
More information about the Emergency Notification System
If you're concerned about the future of the Emergency Notification System, Call or email town board members and let them know that you want the system.