Locals urged to prepare for weather

Published 12:03 am Saturday, February 18, 2012

Alabama has been no stranger to severe weather, and, now residents are being asked to better prepare themselves against weather-related safety issues.

To make that happen, Gov. Robert Bentley has declared Feb. 19-24 as “Severe Weather Awa-reness Week.”

“April 27, 2011, was called Alab-ama’s ‘day of tornadoes,” said Susan Harris, county emergency management agency director. “There were 30 tornadoes that hit the state within 18 hours. Forecasters knew it was coming days in advance, but they didn’t know – nor could they have predicted – the murderous fury with which it would strike.

“In all, 248 people died in direct relation to those tornadoes; numerous structures were destroyed and more than 7,000 people in Tuscaloosa became unemployed in six minutes.

“That is staggering,” she said. “It should also serve as a reminder that severe weather can happen at any time.”

Harris said in 2011, Covington County was placed under countless watches and warnings; however, in eight specific severe weather events caused damages that were reported to EMA – once in February, four times in March, once in June, September and December.

The biggest incident was the March 15 tornado.

“Here, we had a total of 29 structures with damage,” she said. “It’s just another reminder it can happen here at our back door. Now is the time to get prepared for another weather season.”

Harris said a tornado safety drill will be performed on Wed., Feb. 22.

“I’m hoping that everyone will use that time to practice your family’s plan in the event of a tornado,” she said. “The drill will be accomplished in conjunction with our weekly NOAA all-hazards radio test that will be run at a special time of 9 a.m., where an actual tornado warning will sound.

“This is an excellent opportunity for schools, civic organizations and businesses around Covington County to practice what they would do in the event of a tornado warning, as well,” she said.

“Our advice is please be prepared for 2012,” she said.

Those needing assistance in getting prepared should contact the EMA office at 334-428-2670.