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New disaster apps and alerts available to Erie County residents

Disaster looming? There’s an app for that.

Both Erie County government and the Erie County Water Authority have released new apps and alert systems this week designed to help families cope with unexpected emergencies.

Erie County released its “ReadyErie” app, which not only helps families create emergency preparedness plans, but gives up-to-date information on road closures, evacuation routes, shelter information, emergency services and other alerts during severe weather emergencies and catastrophes. The app also enables users to immediately communicate with a network of family members. It even creates an emergency plan for pets.

Demonstrating the app on his smartphone, Poloncarz said ReadyErie can let all his family members know he’s safe at the touch of a button.

It can also pinpoint his exact location to share with police and other first responders during any emergency, like a car accident. Finally, it can tell users where to find the nearest emergency services based on their current location.

“This is one of the most important press conferences I’ve held all year,” he said in promoting the app as a potentially life-saving tool.

He encouraged all Erie County residents to download the ReadyErie app to their iPhones, iPads or Android devices through the App Store or Google Play.

The app designer, QuickSeries Publishing, has created similar disaster apps for other major communities like Houston, said Emergency Services Commissioner Daniel J. Neaverth Jr.

“This is very intuitive,” he said.

The app was developed with $10,845 in county grant money and developed in coordination with the Erie County Emergency Services and county mapping offices, Neaverth said.

Meanwhile, the Erie County Water Authority has unveiled an electronic notification system to keep water customers informed of relevant water main breaks or other vital water-related issues in their area.

In response to criticism regarding slow communication with customers after a major water main break in Amherst left thousands of people with low water pressure, the ECWA has unveiled a new text alert system to keep customers in the loop when emergencies arise.

Customers can sign up to receive the alerts by visiting alerts.ecwa.org or by texting “water” to 1-844-716-ECWA (3292) to enroll.

ECWA Alerts allows customers to sign up to receive notifications by either email, home phone, cellphone or text message.

“Improving our ability to communicate with our customers is paramount, and partnering with IVR Technology to develop our alert system is an important step,” said authority Chairman Earl Jann.

The ECWA awarded Amherst-based IVR Technology Group a $9,877 contract in August to help the Water Authority provide emergency alerts to customers and to reroute overflow phone traffic when customers call in during peak, emergency periods.

email: stan@buffnews.com

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