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Watertown's New Phone Message System was Tested During Hurricane Irene

The system will allow residents to have messages sent by phone, text or fax.

Watertown officials tested the new phone alert system during Hurricane Irene – a system which will allow residents to decide how they want to receive alerts, if at all.

A message about yard waste that went out after the storm hit Watertown was sent using the new system, said Fire Chief Mario Orangio.

The calls confused some people, Orangio said, because they came up on caller IDs as a call from Orangio, since he is the emergency management coordinator.

The town used the phone book to find town residents, but residents will be able to sign up for the new system.

"With Watertown Alert, people can sign up for how they want to get alerts," Orangio said.

The system has not been completely rolled out, but when it is, there will be link on the town's website to sign up for alerts.

Under the old system, people would receive alerts if they were on the town's list of phone numbers. The new system allows people to opt in or out and choose how to get messages.

"If you don't want to receive calls, you won't," Orangio said. "If you want to get a text or fax, you can do that."

The system will be used for school cancellations, road closings, emergency notifications, messages from the Department of Public Works and crime news, Orangio said.

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