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 there 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 today announced a 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.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and local officials announced the text message feature at a news conference in San Jose on Monday, March 14.
—Bay City News Service