Brattleboro's emergency notification system to change

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BRATTLEBORO >> The town is going to have to change its emergency notification system due to the closing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

For years the town has been able to use the plant's Code Red emergency notification system to send out emergency notices to people who signed up for the service. Residents who signed up for the Brattleboro Emergency Notification System received messages in the event of flooding, extreme weather events or other wide-spread emergencies.

With the plant closing, Entergy will be ramping down its emergency notification system so Brattleboro Fire Department Chief Mike Bucossi is getting ready to move the town's system on to the statewide VT-Alert system.

"This system is already being used all over Vermont," Bucossi said. "It is very similar to the system we are using and I don't think people will notice a change."

Bucossi said he would be preparing a full report for the Selectboard's Feb. 3 meeting and would then be rolling out a public information campaign in the coming few months. He said Brattleboro is expected to be on the new system before the start of the summer.

The information from the present system can not be transferred to the new statewide system, so anyone who wants to be included will have to re-register with VT-Alert. Bucossi said there will be plenty of time to make sure everyone who wants to be included will have an opportunity to register before the change.

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The Brattleboro Emergency Notification System, and VT-Alert, are optional emergency notification systems. After a phone number, text number of email address is entered in the system the town can send out mass notifications in the event of a wide-spread emergency .

The BENS system was used extensively during Tropical Storm Irene.

With Brattleboro being so close to Vermont Yankee, the town was able to use the nuclear power plant's emergency notification system years before the state had its own system in place.

Bucossi said VT-Alert will give the town all of the capabilities of the Yankee system, as well as other options included in being a part of a statewide system. The new system, for instance, gives the town the option of contacting cell phone users who may not have been signed on to the system. If someone is traveling in the area, for instance, the town can send out a mass message if a flood, tornado or other sudden emergency occurs. There will be no significant costs associated with the new system, Bucossi said.

"This can be locally controlled, and for the most part it is almost identical to what we have now," Bucossi said. "We'll be having a big public education campaign to let people know this is happening."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be contacted at 802-254-2311 ext. 279.


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