Massac County, like many other communities, is no stranger to storms. From an ice storm that left many powerless to tornadoes and storms that bring torrential rains and massive flooding, Massac County has had its share of storms and now, the county has taken steps to insure that the next storm that hits, the county will be ready.
During times of severe weather it behooves individuals to be prepared but it can be a good thing when counties’ emergency service agencies also take steps to be prepared.
During the Aug. 6 Massac County’s commissioners Jerel Childers, Jayson Farmer and Jeff Weber were informed by Massac County Emergency Service Disaster Agency (ESDA) Director Joe Miller that Massac County ESDA received notification at the end of July that Massac County is officially certified as a StormReady county.
What is StormReady? It is a national program through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to www.stormready.noaa.gov website, the program began in 1999 in Tulsa, Okla. that helps arm America’s communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property — before and during the event.
According to Miller, Massac County is now one of 22 counties in Illinois to be certified as StormReady. He explained the county must have a plan in place for when severe weather occurs.
As a part of Massac County ESDA, there are trained weather spotters, who go out during times of severe weather events to keep an eye on the sky and the developing weather situations. As a part of being StormReady, Miller explained that there are storm spotter classes held every other year that are available for members of the public to attend to become trained weather spotters.
One of the guidelines in becoming a storm ready county is having a 24-hour warning point to receive National Weather Service information. Since the Massac County Sheriff’s Office is staffed around the clock, that is the warning point.
Another aspect of receiving the certification is having multiple sources for weather information. Miller said Massac County Sheriff’s Department telecommunicators have access to a NOAA weather radio. There is a television to monitor storm coverage from local television stations in addition to having the weather spotters in the field providing first-hand information about the weather conditions. “There is a redundancy there,” said Miller.
When there are tornado warnings issued for Massac County, the outdoor weather sirens located within Massac County are activated from the sheriff’s office. And, Massac County’s telecommunicators also receiving storm warning notices via teletype, which also notify the department when the sirens need to be activated.
All of the efforts that have been taken for the county to becoming StormReady, is to better protect residents in the event of tornadoes.
Miller said ESDA has made a conscious effort to make sure the community is ready by having a plan in place when severe weather strikes.
Massac County will have the certification as a StormReady county for a period of three years and the county will be provided with two StormReady signs which the county may display in the location of their choosing.