A ‘Storm Ready’ community good for everyone
by D. GARY DAVIS, Bradley County Mayor
Sep 25, 2012 | 561 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bradley County has been recertified as “Storm Ready” by the National Weather Service. The review is done every three years and the county must meet certain criteria to qualify.

One of the major changes since 2009 has been the institution of warning systems for the general public. Nixle as well as Twitter and Facebook were used effectively to warn Bradley County residents of the March tornado. Salvation Army officials purchased NixlePro for the residents of Bradley County.

The NWS’ Anthony Cavallucci acknowledged the great work and effort the EMA staff has done to maintain the “Storm Ready” status for the county … and renewed through September 2015.

The county has been recognized as “Storm Ready” for improving the timeliness and effectiveness of hazardous weather warnings for the public through a diligent and proactive approach of increased communication and preparedness.

Communications include NOAA weather radio, law enforcement teletype, amateur radio, pagers, television, radio (AM-FM), NAWAS, Internet subscription alerts, commercial data service, Twitter alerts, Facebook alerts and Nizle.

“With our county experiencing multiple tornadoes, flooding, wind storms and other natural occurrences during the past 17 months, we have armed our residents with several ways to stay informed and in the event of future weather events, we are prepared to respond,” said Troy Spence, director of the Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency.

Every three years, NWS requires each “Storm Ready” community to meet certain criteria in order to qualify for the distinction.

One of the major changes this past few months is the institution of warning systems.

Nixle as well as social media warned Bradley County residents of the March tornado. Salvation Army officials purchased NixlePro for the residents of Bradley County.

The upgrade will be able to contact subscribers to the warning system via cell or landline phones, email and text as well as voice.

Fifty-five counties are Tennessee “Storm Ready” communities.

September is the eighth annual National Emergency Preparedness Month which happens to fall on the 10th anniversary month of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. This is a good time to reflect on the lives lost on that fateful day and also to focus on helping individuals, the community and businesses prepare for disasters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Bradley County EMA are offering their wholehearted support of National Preparedness Month. They recognize that not all disasters come in the form of terrorism. Recent earthquakes in the East, Hurricane Irene, along with the deadly tornadoes and flooding in April, are all reminders that disasters can happen any time, anywhere. National, state and local governments, as well as individuals, must not wait until disaster strikes to think about being prepared.

As county mayor, I am very proud of the way our county and city emergency responders reacted when the April 27, 2011, storms created a state of emergency in Bradley County. They were obviously prepared, which was due to their high level of training and participation in numerous disaster scenarios through the years. When the storms hit they were ready.

Being prepared is also the responsibility of the individual citizen and an important aspect of individual preparedness is being informed. Facing difficulties and dangers can best be handled when you know what to do and how to do it. This can help in reducing damage and even the loss of life.

The question some may ask is, "Where do I start?” Only 44 percent of Americans have a household emergency plan so start there. Sit down with your family and explain how important their safety is to you. Then outline several areas that each one should be aware of.

For example, locate a safe room or the safest area in your home should a tornado warning be sounded. In some circumstances, the safest place may not be your home but somewhere in your community. Know the safest escape routes from your home and have a pre-appointed place to meet if your family gets separated during a disaster. Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911. It is also a good idea to have an out-of-state family member or friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.

FEMA guidelines also suggest that individual emergency preparedness should include storing a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water. You should also consider taking CPR and emergency preparedness classes which are available through the Hiwassee Chapter of the American Red Cross.

One of the issues that arose in the aftermath of the April 27 storms was the number of lost household pets. As you draw up a household emergency plan, it would be good to include a plan for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate. This may seem frivolous or even humorous when the sun is shining and the birds are singing. But when the house is falling around you during a tornado you’ll be glad you took time to prepare.

During the spring storms, our local emergency responders were quick to locate several citizens who were trapped and offer emergency shelter to those who needed it. However, it is good to prepare for the worst-case scenario. It could take hours, or possibly days, before help reaches you. It depends upon the disaster. Having your own food, water, first aid and other supplies in sufficient quantity could be the difference between life and death.

National Preparedness Month is a time to turn awareness into action. Take the necessary steps to ensure that your home, workplace and community are prepared for disasters and emergencies of all kinds.

Let’s all take a lesson from the Boy Scouts and be prepared.