Preparedness drills planned to promote weather awareness
Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013 9:04 pm
By CHRIS MENEES
You need to have a plan.
Over the next several days, Obion County Emergency Management director Danny Jowers will be stressing the importance of having a plan in the event of severe weather.
Tennessee Severe Weather Awareness Week will kick off Sunday and run through Feb. 23.
Throughout the week, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service, Tennessee Association of Broadcasters and other supporting groups will conduct educational activities and drills to help people prepare for tornadoes, damaging winds, flash floods, lightning and hail.
Jowers told The Messenger he is planning to do tornado drills at every Obion County and Union City school starting as soon as Friday and continuing into next week. He will also visit some local daycare facilities and nursing homes.
At the nursing homes, Jowers will check the facilities’ weather radios and go over their plans for a severe weather incident.
In addition, Obion County’s EMA director will do communications checks with various departments and state agencies, perform generator checks and activate the emergency operations center on a test basis.
“We want to test our capability to respond and recover,” he said.
He is urging local residents to basically do the same in making sure they have a plan for a severe weather event and by checking the batteries in their weather radios. Anyone who needs assistance may contact Jowers at the Obion County Sheriff’s Department at 885-5832.
He said plans for local residents and their families should cover such issues as where to go during severe weather and where to meet afterward, as well as what safety precautions to take in the event there are downed power lines or a gas leak.
Each day this coming week, the National Weather Service and its Skywarn Storm Spotters Network will focus on safety steps and warnings for specific weather threats, such as lightning and flash flooding. For Tennessee’s No. 1 threat, tornadoes, the National Weather Service will conduct a statewide tornado drill around 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“We sometimes wait until the storm is upon us to think preparedness,” Tennessee Emergency Management Agency director Jim Bassham said in a news release. “If we consider the lingering impact of Hurricane Sandy and our own experiences with tornadoes already in 2013, it should be pretty clear that waiting to be ready is not a plan that’s going to save your life or the lives of your family.”
Tom Johnstone, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Nashville, said severe weather can happen any time in Tennessee but the greatest threat occurs from March through May. He said Severe Weather Awareness Week provides an opportunity for Tennesseans to learn about, and prepare for, all of the hazards the severe weather season can bring.
In addition to the drills planned, TEMA, the National Weather Service and the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters plan to host a press conference Wednesday at the NWS’ Old Hickory office to highlight and ceremonially sign the new state Emergency Alerting System (EAS) plan.
TEMA will also use the press event to conduct a statewide emergency communications radio exercise to illustrate how emergency responders use technology to communicate with each other during disasters and emergencies, according to the agency’s news release.
For more information on Severe Weather Awareness Week and preparing for severe weather, visit TEMA’s website at www.tnema.org or download TEMA’s ReadyTN smartphone application.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 2.14.13