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From the Desk of Assemblyman Charles Lavine - March 19, 2010

Disaster Can Strike at Any Time - Be Prepared With NY-Alert

Unexpected emergencies can destroy communities and devastate families. Whether we are struck by a natural disaster, such as high winds, flooding or an ice storm or we encounter a man-made threat, the more information we have, the better we can respond. That’s why I encourage all residents to sign up for NY-Alert, a program that is part of New York State’s ongoing commitment to providing New Yorkers with information that keeps them aware of threats and emergency situations and instructs them how to respond accordingly.

Signing up for NY-Alert is free and easy. By doing so, you will receive warnings and emergency information, including road closures, inclement weather events and terrorist alerts issued by New York State and local governments. Information can be sent to you via cell phone, home phone, e-mail and other technologies. You can list up to three phone numbers, two e-mail addresses and three cell phone numbers to receive text messages. Receiving alerts through these high-tech devices allows you to be aware of perilous events in a faster and more convenient way.

In addition, once you sign up for NY-Alert, you will also be able to customize locations, types of emergencies and the threat level (from minor to extreme) about which you would like to receive information. Most alerts are issued by your county or local municipality. Every emergency is different and alerts are tailored to meet the notification needs of each incident.

We all have a responsibility to keep our families and communities protected when alarming situations occur. Emergency response personnel are trained to respond quickly and effectively, but every community’s level of preparedness starts with individuals being aware and informed. NY-Alert helps expedite critical and lifesaving information in times of emergency, which can mean the difference between life and death.

To sign up for NY-Alert, visit www.nyalert.gov or call 888-697-6972. As always, feel free to contact my district office at 676-0050 if we may be of any assistance to you.

E-Alert Is in Effect as of March 15

When sex offenders move into our neighborhoods, it can pose a serious threat to the safety and well-being of our children. Last year I helped pass a new law that makes it easier for families to find out if sexual predators are residing in the local community. Through this new law, called E-Alert, residents will be able to receive free automatic e-mail updates about Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders who reside in our communities. In addition, residents will be able to request e-mail updates for up to three counties or ZIP codes (Ch. 478 of 2009). E-Alert takes effect March 15.

In the past, concerned residents, if not otherwise specifically notified, would have to continually check the sex offender registry for updates themselves. This law, which I supported, allows any New York State resident who signs up with the Division of Criminal Justice Services to receive automatic e-mail notifications when a registered sex offender moves into his or her neighborhood.