The Alachua County Emergency Management Office announces the availability of its new 311 local emergency information number beginning Thursday Sept. 1, 2005. In the event of a declared local emergency , such as last year’s storms, or at the discretion of the County Manager, 311 will be activated. Citizens will be able to dial 311 to get up to the minute reports, updates, give damage reports, and seek assistance for non-life threatening requests.
When asked about the timeliness of this service Emergency Services Director Will May said, “In light of last year’s storms, predictions about this season’s storm activity, and the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Katrina, we are always looking for ways to better serve and communicate with our citizens in the event of an emergency.” May continued saying, “The advent of 311 will provide a simple, easily remembered number for all questions and reports. 311 will also free up 911 operators to handle more serious, life threatening calls.”
During last year’s hurricanes the number of calls coming into 911 quadrupled. Many of those calls were non-emergency or requests for information.
Of the eight local phone service carriers BellSouth, Alltel wire line, Alltel wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile have completed the work necessary to activate 311 on their systems. Nextel and Verizon are in the process of completing the work. The County is hoping that Cingular will soon provide this service to their customers as well so that this valuable service is available to as many citizens as possible
In the event of a declared local emergency, the public will be informed that the 311 number has been activated and is available. For information on the 311 Local Emergency Information Number, call Alachua County 311 Program Director Susan Nelson at 338-7361.