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Video: Multiple Northand Counties Impacted by False Evacuation Alert

Feb 06, 2020 07:44AM ● By Editor

Watch the WDIO-TV report here

From WDIO-TV - January 5, 2020

On Wednesday morning, multiple Northland counties received an evacuation alert from the Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division. Soon after, the division took to Twitter to inform residents that it was a false alarm and part of a routine test run.

St. Louis County sent out a press release to inform residents that they were safe and that there was no evacuation underway. Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Itasca and Pine County sent out similar updates.

Residents in several northern Minnesota counties received a wireless emergency alert (WEA) message this morning instructing them to evacuate. This was a routine internal weekly test of the system and not intended to be delivered to the public.

Investigator Brandon Olson with the Floodwood Police Department said that members of the Floodwood Police Department received the alert shortly after 8:00am Wednesday morning. After speaking to St. Louis County, they determined that it was a false alarm.

"The city hall here did receive several phone calls from concerned citizens that were wondering what was going on with the message," Olson said.

One of these residents was Michael Laine of Floodwood who said that he never received an update from the division.

"I looked at it a couple times, I had the radio on. I thought I might here something on there, but I didn’t hear anything so I guess I just thought it was a false alarm or something," Laine said. "I wish they would’ve sent something out if there wasn’t any problem."

Sisters Elsie and Elvi Tollgaard of Floodwood also commented on the alert. They said it wasn't very specific.

"I thought, well what are we supposed to do? So, I got on the phone and called the city hall and then they called me back and said it was false," Elvi said.

Despite the false alarm, residents and authorities were quick to point out that this technology can be lifesaving.

In instances of severe weather, Elsie pointed out that it would help to be alerted.

"We were in a tornado in 1959 and we didn’t know it was coming and that was scary, but the news had just come on and it shut off," Elsie said.

And in instances of Amber Alerts, Laine said he was all for it.

"I usually get them when there’s an Amber Alert and I think it’s a good thing," Laine said.

Olson affirmed that the system does work and that messages got out to people. He added that errors in these messages were rare.

"I think these messages that come out in error are extremely rare and I think that if people in our community receive these kinds of messages, they should take them seriously and safely try and do as they instruct," Olson said.

The Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division said that the incident is under investigation.

To read the original article and read related reporting, follow this link to the WDIO-TV website.

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