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Some who evacuated Marshall Fire never got reverse 911 alert

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said that to receive their emergency alerts, cell phone users had to sign up online.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Tawnya Somauroo said that, for a brief time her neighbors thought she was hysterical as she frantically messaged neighborhood groups warning them that a wildfire was moving their direction and they might have to evacuate.

Days removed, Somauroo’s messages proved to be right, as most of her neighborhood in Louisville was destroyed by the fast moving Marshall Fire.

“There was no notice," she said. “And that was hard because when I was trying to get my neighbors to pay attention to it – it sounded to some like I was being a little hysterical.”

Somauroo was one of several people evacuated by the Marshall Fire who contacted 9NEWS, saying they hadn’t received an alert message from the county that they had to evacuate.

“What I really wish is that everybody just had a little more time because most of my neighbors left with nothing but the clothes on their back or they went home, and their dogs had perished in the house and they’re grief stricken about it,” she said.

Boulder County uses an alert system called Everbridge. The system automatically registers all landlines in the county, but anyone with cell phones has to create an account with the company and register their number with an address, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle told reporters Monday.

>If you live in Boulder County and would like to sign up for Everbridge alerts, click through to the Everbridge Emergency Alert page on Boulder County's website.

“If you believe you should have received an alert please call our call center so they can investigate that,” Pelle said.

According to a spokeswoman for Pelle’s office, all cases of missed alerts during the fire that the sheriff’s office has investigated so far were due to people not registering their cell phones for the Everbridge system.

“I don’t know about that,” Somauroo said. “I don’t know what it is. If I did I certainly would have signed up for it.”

Another homeowner who lost their home in Superior told 9NEWS they also had never heard of the Everbridge system before, though they’d received reverse 911 alerts in the past. They didn’t receive this alert during the Marshall Fire.

“I live in the United States,” Somauroo said. “I don’t expect that I’m not going to get that message. It really surprised me.”

In the end, her home was destroyed. Somauroo, her husband and two young daughters are living in a hotel until they can figure out what’s next.

“I think we’re doing a lot better than a lot of our neighbors,” she said. “I have my two children and my husband. We got our computers our papers our medicines.”

“We’re just getting by and taking it one step at a time.”

If you'd like to donate to the Somauroo family, you can do so through their GoFundMe page.

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