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County Executive Ball Reminds Ellicott City Residents of Public Meeting on Emergency Public Alert System

February 22, 2019

Media Contact:
Scott L. Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today reminded residents that the Office of Emergency Management will hold the first of three public meetings next week regarding the Emergency Public Alert System proposed for Historic Ellicott City. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 25, 2019 at 7:00 PM in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive in Ellicott City, to review plans, answer questions and gather community feedback.

“One of the keys to keeping Ellicott City residents, employees and visitors safe from flooding is to provide as much warning as possible of an imminent threat,” said Ball. “This audible alert on Main Street is just one aspect in Phase One of the EC Safe and Sound plan. It only works if people know about it and know how to respond, so this is an early step in the process to provide information and collect community input.”

As part of the EC Safe and Sound plan, an outdoor tone-based alert system is being implemented to complement existing alert and warning tools. Two temporary units are expected to be in place before summer 2019 at the Ellicott City Colored School at 8683 Frederick Road and the Visit Howard County Welcome Center at 8267 Main Street.

The mobile, trailer-based speaker arrays provide tone alerts to historic Ellicott City when flash flood conditions are imminent. The units will produce a very loud tone (technically rated at 120 decibels within a 100 ft. radius) warning individuals in outdoor spaces. These sound levels are equal to an ambulance or emergency services siren at full volume.

A specific agenda about the Emergency Alert System will be established for each meeting.  This first meeting will review Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommendations, public safety recommendations, timeline and educational materials under development. Attendees will be asked to provide feedback on various tones that could be used and offer suggestions for a regular testing schedule. Additional meetings, their topics and a testing schedule will be provided in March.

A permanent solution, scheduled for 2020, will have additional units for enhanced coverage and may add voice capabilities for better direction during emergencies.

Learn more about the plans for this system at https://www.ecsafeandsound.org/emergency-public-alert-system

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