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Emergency Notification Systems Getting Work Out

The recent outbreak of severe weather in Fulshear and the surrounding county has given early warning systems a work out. Emergency notifications can be generated from a national level all the way down to local governments – and the same message can be sent multiple times.

“In the event of severe weather, the National Weather Service (NWS) will push out alerts to all residents typically through their phone systems. Those are automatic and part of the phone notification system. The City of Fulshear also uses an emergency notification system – Blackboard Connect- which will send out alerts as well. So a resident who has made the decision to opt in to our notification system is going to get messages from us as well as the National Weather Service, the County and/or anyone else who might be relaying those alerts,” said City Manager C. J. Snipes.

“These types of Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), are made available through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) infrastructure, and are just one of the ways public safety officials can quickly and effectively alert and warn the public about serious emergencies,” he said.

“Last Sunday was something of an anomaly however. We actually spotted the tornado and had our early warning system – Blackboard Connect – push the alert out eight minutes before the NWS sent it out. Typically, there is slight time lapse from when the NWS sends out an alert, and Blackboard Connect sends it out.”

Residents who have signed up to receive messages through the City of Fulshear’s emergency notification system will receive those alerts on every device listed in their account. It isn’t unusual for those residents to receive multiple warning, Snipes said.

“Because we are located in central Fort Bend County, if the NWS or Ft Bend Emergency Management is pushing out information pertaining to that area, we are going to receive it, even if the direct threat to Fulshear has passed. The same is true if the emergency message is coming from any federal or state agency. Residents have the option to not receive messages from the City’s emergency notification system, but they will still receive national, state or county alerts.”

Residents who are interested in opting in or out of Blackboard Connect can use the following link to do so: https://092711184.bbcportal.com/. Questions about Blackboard Connect can be addressed to communications@fulsheartexas.gov or by calling 281-346-1796.

Snipes and emergency responders will address the emergency notification system, as well as emergency preparedness in general at the next Fulshear 101 program. It is scheduled for Tuesday, June 6, 2017 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the Irene Stern Community Center, 6920 Katy-Fulshear Rd.