R-C area needs weather alert system

Published 12:33 pm Monday, September 29, 2008

Unless you are watching a television tuned to Weather Channel or sitting within earshot of a NOAA weather radio, about the only way a resident of northeastern North Carolina will know when a dangerous storm is approaching is to be in its path of destruction.

By that time, it’s too late.

Friday morning’s tornado that struck Aulander or the ones that affected the Lewiston and Colerain areas earlier this year are a testament to our lack of an early warning system.

Would tornado sirens, like the ones found in the Midwestern United States, work here? Studies have shown they would not due to our typography. While we lack any hills that would prevent the sound from carrying, it’s our thick forests that would muffle the sound of those early-warning sirens.

But there is hope beyond what advance notice we may be able to receive from TV or radio.

One local county, Northampton, has an advanced warning system. CodeRed is a reverse 9-1-1 where all sorts of messages, including bad weather, can be sent to county residents who have a land-line phone or cell phone. Those residents must be registered to receive this feature.

Northampton officials are also studying another CodeRed feature, one that will send storm warnings to county citizens from the National Weather Service office in Wakefield, Va.

We would implore officials in Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties to explore the same options.

There is no amount of money that can pay for a human life, but if such a system saves just one person it more than pays for itself.