West Hanover Elementary School Fourth Graders Start the Countdown to Hurricane Season 2013 Producing Digital Severe Weather Awareness Stories

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Release date: 
May 9, 2013
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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Fourth graders at West Hanover Elementary School kicked off the 30-day countdown to Hurricane Season 2013 on May 2 with a special severe weather preparedness program at the school. During the event, representatives of the Dauphin County Emergency Management Agency, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) presented preparedness information.

PEMA Central Area Director Fred Boylstein presented a two-way weather radio that was donated by Motorola through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to fourth grader Reilly Shafer. Shafer received the radio for his digital story about severe weather preparedness featuring Flat Stella and Flat Stanley, the iconic characters of the national Ready.gov preparedness initiative for young people. Shafer and his classmates used their computers to produce the digital stories, which were told in storyboard format.

Shafer's storyboard, titled “Disaster Kit,” lists items that should be kept in a designated box in case of severe weather. In his story, Shafer listed the following items:

A six-day supply of water with enough for each person to have one gallon per day

  1. Non-perishable food items
  2. Battery-powered flashlights and a radio with extra batteries
  3. Food and extra water for pets
  4. Hats, gloves, blankets and rain gear
  5. Extra cash
  6. A hand-operated can opener
  7. Cell phone with charger
  8. Extra garbage bags
  9. A wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

National Hot Rod Association World Champion Bruce Larson was one of three story judges. Larson chose Shafer’s story for its thoughtfulness. 

“I was impressed with the work that all of the students put into the contest,” Larson said. “Every topic was addressed with concern for public safety and well thought out. I chose Reilly Shafer’s entry based on his thoughtfulness in providing a list of contents for a disaster kit that should be included in every household for use in a wide variety of emergency situations.”

Emma Leibfried’s story "What to do During a Severe Thunderstorm" explained the importance of tuning into a radio to monitor severe weather. Her story said to listen to the radio throughout the storm while in a safe place. 

WPMT-TV FOX 43 Meteorologist MaryEllen Pann chose Leibfried’s story. 

“I chose Leibfried’s story because it was very well detailed,” Pann said.

Madison VonNeida’s story “What do You Need to Do During a Tornado” highlighted the importance of taking shelter in the lowest level of the building when a tornado warning is issued.

“Stay away from windows and doors!” VonNeida wrote. “Remain in a safe place until the warning has been lifted.”

WHP-TV CBS 21 Chief Meteorologist Tom Russell selected VonNeida’s story.

“What I really like is the touch at the end: ‘Now let’s go help others!’” Russell said.

“While these three stories were selected, each and every student told an excellent story about severe weather preparedness,” Boylstein told the students.

With Hurricane Season 2013 approaching, the precautions highlighted in the stories are especially important.    

“Every student told an important message about being prepared in case of severe weather,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Thomas McCool. “These messages are more important now than ever, as Hurricane Season 2013 approaches.

After the award presentation, students recorded public service announcements based on their winning stories. Judges teamed up with students to rehearse and record 45-second recordings. The announcements will be distributed jointly by PEMA and FEMA in conjunction with the countdown to Hurricane Season 2013, which begins on June 2.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.  Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at http://www.fema.gov/medialibrary and www.youtube.com/fema. Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/femaregion3.

Last Updated: 
May 15, 2013 - 11:02
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