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(Sacramento) – In this Democratic weekly radio address, Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, urges Californians not to opt out of the Wireless Emergency Alert system (WEA), and reminds people that WEA goes beyond Amber Alerts—they are necessary for warning Californians of natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

A full transcript is below. This week's address is 3:25. mp3

Website of Assemblymember Lowenthal: http://asmdc.org/lowenthal

Transcript:

“Hello.  I’m Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management.

Last week, many of us in the West witnessed an innovative program in action. 

Thankfully, with the broad distribution of an Amber Alert through the new Wireless Emergency Alert system, otherwise known as WEA, we were able to avoid further tragedy, and Hannah Anderson is home safely with her father.

Without a doubt, this system has the potential to save lives here in California and across the nation. 

Whether it’s a wildfire, earthquake, terrorist attack, or an Amber Alert, Wireless Emergency Alerts may make all the difference. 

This is California and we’re not strangers to natural disasters.  We’ve seen some of the worst.

We also know all too well from experience that minutes matter.  Like other states, we’ve been working to develop systems that give people an early warning of a potential disaster. 

One of our biggest challenges is finding the right technology that gets critical information to a targeted area as quickly as possible.

Our existing programs like reverse 9-1-1 can only do so much.  They depend in large part on land lines, and having someone around to answer that phone. 

That’s exactly why we need the WEA system.  It provides a reliable, flexible, and comprehensive system to alert people during a severe emergency.

It can target alerts to a certain geographic area – sending the message to all cell phones within that area.  It’s not hindered by blocked lines.  And, it’s free.

Anyone who purchased a phone since the end of 2012 has the ability to receive alerts issued from FEMA and local emergency managers through WEA.  The technology is already pre-installed.

Keep in mind, this program goes beyond Amber Alerts. 

It can distribute warnings on tornadoes, tsunamis, wildfires, and other natural disasters. 

It can be used for a presidential alert to warn us about an act of war, or a terrorist attack.

It will also distribute critical messages after disasters. For example the location of shelters, open roads, and open hospitals.

Yes, last week’s alert was loud.  It may have startled you.  It’s designed, in fact, to get your attention.  If there’s a wildfire approaching your neighborhood, you’re going to want know about it.

I hope all Californians understand the tremendous potential this program has to save lives and protect property.  I hope you’ll think twice before disabling the alerts on your phone. 

I’m Bonnie Lowenthal.  Thank you for listening.”

CONTACT: Allison Ruff, (916) 319-2070