Iowa officials urge preparation, launch website about “N11” codes in advance of storm season


March 12th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds are urging Iowans to be prepared year-round for emergencies. The recent tragic tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and South, and forecasts predicting 2012 will see above-normal tornado numbers, according to Branstad, is reason for everyone to increase their awareness of services available easily from your phone. Most people are familiar with dialing 911, but some may not be aware of the seven other “N11” codes. N11 is a three-digit shortcut to reach special community resources. The numbers are set aside by the Federal Communications Commission and operated by the community service provider. For example, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) operates the 511 service describing road and traffic conditions. 

To assist in the awareness of these N11 codes, the Branstad administration has directed the creation of a website containing the information. It is found here:  The following N11 codes are available for Iowans to use: 

  • 211 – Community information and referral services, including food, shelters, clothes, health insurance programs, support groups, counseling, financial assistance, meal services, child care, legal services, etc. There are 2-1-1 call centers serving all 99 counties in Iowa. 
  • 311 – Nonemergency police, fire and municipal business. Local and municipal governments administer 311 calls.
  • 411 – Local telephone directory assistance. Landline 4-1-1 service is provided by local telephone companies.  Wireless services are provided by your wireless phone carrier. Some telephone companies and wireless carriers charge for this service.  
  • 511 – Travel information, including the status of roadway construction, accidents, detours and winter road conditions. Iowa information is provided by the Iowa DOT. 511 services are available in most other states. The information you receive is based on the location from where you are calling. 511 is the abbreviated number for 800-288-1047 (available nationwide).
  • 611 – For customers of some telephone companies, 611 is used to report a problem with telephone service. Many wireless phone providers also use 611 as a general customer service access number.
  • 711 – The Telecommunications Relay Service that allows people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-disabled to place calls to standard telephone users via a keyboard or other assistive device 
  • 811 – This “Call before You Dig” number arranges for utilities to be located and marked, preventing damage that can interrupt service and place the public at risk. 
  • 911 – Emergency response   

Additionally, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is encouraging all Iowans to take the following three steps to ensure proper precautions are taken in case of emergencies or natural disasters: 

  • Step One—Be Aware of the hazards that may affect you.
  • In Iowa we know we will have tornadoes, floods, thunderstorms, hail, blizzards and ice storms.
  • Pay attention to the news. Local radio and television stations provide up-to-date information during an emergency. You can sign up for Twitter or Facebook updates to come directly to your mobile phone.
  • Investing in a NOAA Weather Radio is a great way to receive weather and other emergency alerts – and you can program it so you only receive alerts for your county. 
  • Step Two—Make an emergency plan.
  • Because you and your family may not be together when an emergency happens, knowing what to do, where you will go, and how to get in touch with each other is important.
  • So, sit down as a family. Plan for those who have special needs, such as elderly relatives or family members and even neighbors who are dependent on life-sustaining or health-related equipment such as a ventilator or respirator. They may need help in the event of an evacuation or a severe weather event.
  • And since most shelters don’t accept pets, don’t forget to make plans for them. 
  • Step Three—Make an emergency supply kit
  • During an emergency there are items you and your family will need. This includes if you have to evacuate your home or shelter in place.
  • Build an emergency supply kit by packing a bag with items such as water and food, medication, a first aid kit, a flashlight, batteries, a radio, copies of important documents such as insurance policies and driver’s licenses, and blankets and sleeping. 

More information about these three simple steps can be found at HSEMD’s preparedness website

(Press Release from the Governor’s Office)