New warning system used for Glenwood Canyon rockslide
Monday’s closure of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon resulted in the first use of a new system designed to notify the public of emergencies and issue other community alerts.
Garfield County sheriff spokesman Phil Strouse said the system goes beyond emergency notification systems that just call home phone numbers. Instead, it can notify any participant via a cell phone call, text message or e-mail.
Anyone wanting to participate can go to the Web site of Garfield County Emergency Communication Authority Board, http://www.garco911.org, to sign up.
The system can notify people of events such as severe weather, fire, floods, evacuations and unexpected road closures such as that in Glenwood Canyon.
Strouse said officials had to work through some early system glitches that required users’ passwords to be reset, but it’s working fine now. Meanwhile, this week’s incident provided a learning opportunity regarding the new system, as some subscribers got an early-morning phone call about the highway closure and complained that the situation didn’t merit waking them up.
Strouse said authorities are recommending that users change their settings so that they are contacted by means such as e-mail or text message for non-emergency alerts, and by cell phone or landline for emergencies.
Either way, people will need to confirm receipt of the message or it will keep being sent, he said.
Strouse said one advantage of the new system is that, unlike emergency notification, it can contact evacuated residents to let them know it’s safe to return home.
It also can help in other circumstances, such as notifying people during wildfire season about smoke that may be coming from elsewhere rather than a local fire. Authorities now spend a lot of time answering calls from people worried about the source of wildfire smoke, Strouse said.