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New Emergency Notification System May Miss Many Apex Residents

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APEX, N.C. — In the wake of its hazardous chemical fire, Apex has installed a new state-of-the-art emergency notification system. It can contact up to 60,000 people an hour, but it has some drawbacks.

Life in the Surrey Meadows Subdivision is getting back to normal after a massive fire at a nearby hazardous materials warehouse wreaked havoc almost two weeks ago.

"My neighbor called and said, 'Close your window, there has been an explosion,'" said resident Zoe Lucas.

Lucas, like many in the neighborhood, never received notice to evacuate by emergency officials. Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly said the town relied on the county's reverse 911 system to inform residents.

Weatherly said the town was in the process of installing its own $10,000-per-year system, "Code Red," the night of the disaster.

"The capability of this system is to make 60,000 calls per hour," Weatherly said.

But the system has its limits. If a resident is on the phone, it won't break through, even if they have call waiting. And if their internet service is through their phone line, they wouldn't get a call if they are online.

"Most people are usually on the computer or on the phone, so that would be a slight problem," Lucas said.

Weatherly also said that a 900 number appears on the Caller ID display, prompting some residents to not answer. The town tested the system last week, and a quarter of the town didn't receive the call.

"Of course, we would like a perfect system," Weatherly said. "But this is far better than any other system out there."

Lucas said that's not good enough.

"If 100 percent of the people are not getting contacted, then that is not good," she said.

The town is asking residents with unlisted numbers to register with the CodeRED Emergency Notification System online. Residents can also register additional contact numbers like cell phone and work numbers. The numbers can be registered through the Apex Web site.



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