PEARL — Mississippians now have two new public alerting tools aimed at helping citizens prepare for emergencies, and warn them of impending threats directly through their smartphones.
During a news conference held at Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) headquarters in Pearl, Gov. Phil Bryant and MEMA director Robert Latham demonstrated MEMA’s new mobile phone app that allows the public to find emergency information, preparedness tools, weather radar, along with several other options like statewide highway information.
The new mobile app is free and available to iPhone and Android phone users by searching for MEMA in the iPhone or Android app store.
The second new initiative is the Wireless Emergency Alert system, which allows emergency text messages to be sent by MEMA, county emergency managers and the National Weather Service to every enabled smartphone phone in an area without its user having to download an app or subscribe to a service. The messages could include extreme weather warnings, local emergencies requiring evacuation or other immediate action, Amber Alerts and Presidential Alerts during national emergency situations.
“This WEA program will save lives, no doubt about it,” said Latham. “The fact that you can get an automatic alert no matter where you are is remarkable, but you need to know what you will do before you receive the alert.”
The WEA is also free and does not even require users to have a text messaging plan. Cell phone customers can contact their providers to see if their device is WEA enabled, or you can go to www.fema.gov/wireless-emergency-alerts to learn more.