ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. – The past year has proved that severe weather can strike at any time or place. Tornadoes in the South and in Joplin, Missouri and the swath of destruction left by Tropical Storm Irene as it swept up the East Coast and through Vermont were some of the most dramatic images of 2011.
This year, federal officials are working to make Americans more aware of the threat of severe weather and better prepared to meet it by designating April 22 – 28 as the first National Severe Weather Preparedness Week by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“Last year there were more than 1,000 fatalities and more than 8,000 injuries nation-wide related to the weather,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer James N. Russo. “Already this year the country has experienced deadly severe weather from coast to coast. After Irene, Vermonters are well aware of the need to be vigilant.”
National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a nationwide effort designed to increase awareness of dangerous weather that can affect individuals, families, businesses and communities. The theme is “Be a Force of Nature” – know your risk, take action and be an example.
FEMA, NOAA and Vermont Emergency Management are just part of the team that works to prepare for, and respond to disaster. A key member of the team is the public. Building a weather-ready nation requires each person to know the weather risks in the community and to be prepared for them.
“All of our communication efforts are effective only if people listen and take measures to protect themselves,” said Joe Flynn, Director of VEM. “We want to spare Vermonters from the kind of pain that occurred when Irene came to our state and changed the landscape.”
Preparedness includes developing a family communications plan, gathering supplies for an emergency kit to sustain a household for up to 72 hours, and knowing how to access warning systems or alerts for severe weather.
You can be an example to family and friends by sharing your knowledge via social media web sites. More information may be found at www.Ready.gov/severe-weather.
Many people use social media in the event of a disaster to let relatives and friends know they are safe. It appears people are more likely to take preparedness steps if they observe the preparations taken by others. Social media provides a platform to model preparedness actions for others and set an example.
An important step toward becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work and how it could impact you and your family.
Check the weather forecast regularly, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, and sign up for localized alerts from emergency management officials. Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.
Be a “Force of Nature” by taking the pledge to prepare on the Ready.gov/severe-weather web site. The commitment will include the family communication plan, an emergency kit, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved.
Additional steps may include sharing your story with your famil...