EMA: Plan now where to go in storm

Published 1:37 am Saturday, February 17, 2018

With no shelters available in the county, residents need to prepare

Peak tornado season is just weeks away, and soon to be followed by hurricane season. Emergency officials say it’s important to prepare now for severe weather.

Starting Sun., Feb. 18 through Fri., Feb. 23, is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Alabama.

Alabama Emergency Management Agency and other supporting organizations are asking for help to provide the public with information about severe weather safety.

“We want to promote different ways to make sure that the public has ways of receiving severe weather messages and news,” Director of the Emergency Management Agency for Covington County Susan Harris said. “One way of doing that is making sure you have a NOAA weather radio.”

A NOAA weather radio is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office.

Harris said if someone has a radio, and has not been able to program it, then they can bring it to the EMA office and they can program it for you.

“We will do anything to make sure that people are safe and that includes preparing for the storm now instead of waiting for it.” Harris said.

The second thing everyone needs is a safe place to go when severe weather strikes, Harris said.

“There are no public storm shelters in Covington County, so for everyone living in a trailer home, it is important that you seek shelter at a friend’s house, a church or a family member’s house,” Harris said. “My ideal vision of a safe place is the center of a brick house away from any windows.”

Harris said that advance planning and increased awareness will help residents of Alabama prepare for potentially deadly storms.

“The third thing that will help immensely is if a family has a plan they should stick to it no matter what,” Harris said. “Kids have severe weather drills at school to help them stick with a plan, but at home that may not be the case. If parents have a plan of what to do, they need to work on it with their kids to make sure they know.”

The EMA is working to get its own storm shelter for the Emergency Operations Center.

“It is so important for us to have this shelter, because we can’t take off,” Harris said. “When there is severe weather we have people on the clock 24/7 and we need a safe place to continue to work.”

The Covington County Commission agreed to apply for grant funding last month for the new emergency operations shelter.