(Olive Branch, MS) For years, cities have used tornado sirens to warn people in emergencies, but more and more, those warnings go out over cell phones, text messages and e-mails.
Now, the Olive Branch Mayor has added a new twist.
Monday morning, Olive Branch launched “Code Red”, it’s new emergency warning system which covers everything from water outages to weather warnings.
Citizens can choose how they want to get their alerts.
”We just sent out an all-call this morning at 10am to everybody in our database, made 9903 calls” said Mayor Sam Rikard.
But that’s not all, because, you see, Mayor Rikard is also known as the “Weather Mayor."
This city executive has a broadcast meteorology degree from Mississippi State University, and for years has published specialized weather forecasts on Facebook, ”They’re pretty much customized specifically for DeSoto County, is what they are”.
Recently, he’s added video, and even maps and backgrounds, just like all the big TV people, using just an iPhone.
Rikard says his forecasts can reach people who’ve lost their TV reception, ”I’ve seen, time and time again, people say ‘well my satellite’s out. I’m relying on you’ so hopefully it’s a benefit, and it’s fun."
Fun, and potentially life saving.
In a recent storm, Rikard even received requests from as far away as Jonesboro, Arkansas and Moscow, Tennessee for customized forecasts.