In early April 2022, FEMA granted funding for the construction of the first comprehensive Emergency Warning System (EWS) for the Town of Paradise.
What’s an Early Warning System?
An Early Warning System is a multichannel system designed to warn residents of emergencies, reduce 911 and individual-to-individual calls, and create a clear call to action. The Paradise EWS will have 21 siren towers throughout Paradise that will emit siren tones and voice comments audible from any location in Town limits. The majority of sirens will be placed on public property, and those on private property will be located with the prior agreement of the property owner.
The system will have battery backup, AC and solar charging system, user-friendly cloud-based software, and a reliable connection not reliant on local power or cell towers. The siren towers will be built from fire and heat-resistant material.
To ensure multiple layers of warning, this EWS will also be fully integrated with other emergency warning programs, such as CodeRED, Butte 211, and other alerts that provide more information through a cell phone.
How will it help Paradise residents?
An Early Warning System is an immediate, loud, and consistent way to notify residents of any hazardous event in a timely manner via sirens, voice messages, text, and more. The system is designed to be redundant, meaning there are multiple ways for residents to be notified in an emergency in case one or more methods of communication are impacted by the emergency itself.
How do we ensure the EWS doesn’t cause any additional panic during an emergency?
Outside of monthly testing, the EWS is designed to only be used in times of emergency and when evacuations are needed. By alerting residents as soon as possible of the emergency and need to evacuate, the EWS can help residents ascertain the best evacuation routes in accordance with the Master Transportation Plan updates in progress and make the most prepared plans possible
How does the FEMA grant work?
This project is funded through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), and works on a reimbursement basis, meaning once the project is approved for funding, work must be completed by the Town and then submitted to FEMA for reimbursement. The total grant amount from FEMA is $2,270,156.00. The total project cost is expected to be $3,026,875, leaving $756,710.00 for the Town to fund. The Town is leveraging other grants to pay for the local requirement.
The EWS is one of the most important priorities for safety, and as such has been a key project since immediately after the fire.
- Just weeks after the fire, the Town of Paradise submitted applications for funding several Hazard Mitigation Projects, including the EWS.
- FEMA granted funds for the design of the system.
- The Town sent out a survey to Paradise residents, asking for input on preferred EWS capabilities. 1,800 survey responses were received.
- The Town opened a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a company to design the system.
- Genasys won the contract, using input from the resident survey responses, and they finalized the design of the system in November 2020.
- As soon as the design was complete, the Town submitted another application to fund the construction of the design.
- In April 2022, FEMA granted the Town funds for construction.
- In May 2022, the Town will open another RFP to find the right contractor to build the EWS.
- Summer 2022: Work on the system is expected to begin.
To read more about the plan, please review this 47-page report outlining the specifics of the plan.