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New RedAlert system will send disaster info to cell phones

Renton residents can now get up-to-the-minute disaster information about the city and their neighborhood on their cell phone as part of the city’s “Ready in Renton” campaign.

The city is rolling out a new notification system that requires interested residents to register their cell phones and devices with the Renton RedAlert system. After entering information in a website on the City of Renton’s homepage, residents can get critical messages by phone, TDD, text message and email detailing the latest information during a disaster.

“So it’s a huge leap forward for us to notify not just the public as needed, but also emergency workers to come in and deal with an emergency,” said Deborah Needham, Renton’s emergency management director.

City officials have found that the number of residents with landlines is shrinking and traditional modes of contacting the public during a disaster, like calling them at home, isn’t possible. A number of cell phone chargers have been purchased too for charging stations around Renton. That was a lesson learned after Hurricane Sandy, said Needham. You can contact the public via their cell phones, but with potentially no power in the area, residents have to be able to charge them.

Although the city has some cell phone numbers in its database from other sources, officials are asking residents who haven’t previously given their information to sign up for the notifications.

To sign-up, visit the city’s website at rentonwa.gov.

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