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County launches disaster-alert text service

Santa Clara County residents can receive texts about shelter locations, medical services and more

Santa Clara County introduced a new easy-to-use text-message number Monday (March 14) to help residents receive emergency alerts in the event of a disaster.

The initiative was prompted by last week's 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the northeast coast of Japan that caused a tsunami and killed thousands of people before traveling across the Pacific Ocean and briefly elevating surf levels along parts of the California coast.

In 2009, the county launched AlertSCC, a regional automated emergency-notification tool that provides instant safety information to residents in the event of an emergency or disaster via text message, e-mail, or home or business phone using 411 and 911 databases. But because so many people are becoming more reliant on their cell phones, the county announced the text number, 32075, to reach more members of the community. The feature also benefits residents who have a language barrier.

According to David Figueroa Ortega, Mexico's consul general in San Jose, with the 32075 text number it is not necessary to provide a name or house number but only the word "alertscc," a street name and a ZIP code. Residents will receive messages notifying them about the location of shelters, for example, where to get medical assistance and food, and areas to avoid because of street closures and downed bridges.

To sign up for the feature, either text 32075 or visit www.alertscc.com.

— Bay City News Service

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