The Village of South Jacksonville’s new emergency and public alert system got its first big test this week.
Several water customers in the southern portion of the Village lost all water service Wednesday after a major water line was broken in a field south of Labor Drive. A tile plow damaged the line while cutting a trench for the installation of drainage tile in the field.
The water tower on West Vandailia Road had to be shut down over fears the tower would empty due to the large amount of water lost from the break in the line. Crews had the line repaired by Wednesday evening, but the sudden loss of water service and subsequent boil order that was issued meant word of the problem needed to get out to village residents quickly.
South Jacksonville Chief of Police Eric Hansell says it was the first major test of the Village’s new Code Red Emergency Alert System. “Our first launch of the Code Red System was to the south of Southland Park Drive letting them know that there was a boil order. We reached around two hundred people in that first code red and have had a lot of people coming in and signing up for it now trying to get on board so they know what’s going on in their community.”
Hansell says in the targeted area for sending out the alert, in all 42 emails, 215 phone calls, 132 text messages, and one TDD message to a hearing-impaired person were sent and received via the system.
Code Red is a free emergency notification service that allows South Jacksonville residents to receive notifications generated by government and public safety officials. Hansell says the system can be used for anything from missing children or elderly individuals, weather warnings, or some kind of emergency that would cause a major traffic diversion.
Hansell says the system can also be utilized by all departments in the Village, so in instances like Wednesday’s boil order, the Utility Department was able to have the notice sent out to only those subscribers that were affected by the break in the line.
Hansell says the Village doe not intend to overload residents with messages, but the Code Red system can be a major tool in the toolbox for getting important information out to residents quickly.
Village Clerk Clay Johnson who manages the system said during Thursday’s Trustee meeting that the number of subscribers had tripled in the last week. The system is free to subscribe to and users can even opt-in or out of specific services.
To sign up for the Code Red system South Jacksonville residents can log on to the Village website at southjacksonville-il.gov or by stopping into Village Hall during regular business hours.
The boil order from the line break was lifted completely on Friday.