Laguna Beach tests outdoor and cellphone warning systems

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- First-responders tested an outdoor warning system with an announcement that was heard all over Laguna Beach on Wednesday.

"We're in a city that has a lot of hazards. We need to be prepared to alert and warn our residents appropriately, effectively and efficiently," said Jordan Villwock, coordinator of Laguna Beach Emergency Operations.

During last month's series of storms, public safety officials used the announcement to warn of potential flooding in the downtown area. It's a message residents said they appreciated.

"We do have areas that flood despite efforts to prevent that the city has undertaken and that would warn people not to go that way," resident David Richardson said.

In addition to the speaker system, the city also sent its first message using the wireless alert system. Much like an Amber Alert, it buzzes and rings until a person checks it.

City officials said it's a necessary tool for a place that sees 6 million tourists a year.

"When you're in the city and your cellphone is in the GPS location of our towers then we have the ability to send you a message right to your phone," Villwock said.

Laguna Beach emergency personnel hope the systems help keep the community informed and safe, especially in a situation like a wildfire.

"For us to be able to communicate during a wildfire - that fast-moving fire - to send that message to everyone's cellphone quickly is so important," Villwock said.

Public safety officials hope anyone who received the alert will fill out their survey. They plan to test the system at least once a year.
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