What would you do if you found out there was a tornado headed right toward you, right now? On average, you get at least 13 minutes to respond.
The clock starts now:
Ask yourself, would you know it was coming?
How would you hear about the warning?
Where would you go to safely seek shelter?
What if you were asleep?
Are you ready?
That’s just minutes to hear about the tornado warning, figure out what is going on, make a decision about what you will do, and take action that could save your life.
Now consider this:
What if you were at work?
A busy mall or dark movie theater?
What would you do? Where would you meet your family, friends or co-workers after the tornado hit?
Recently, my office asked those same questions. In the FEMA Region IV area, we’re responsible for 350 employees who work in multiple buildings throughout the Atlanta area and what we call “in the field” – other joint field offices.
We reviewed our own severe weather plan. Then, we exercised that plan as part of a campus-wide no-notice tornado drill.
And we didn’t stop there!
I am proud to share that we went one step further, earning the official StormReady designation from the National Weather Service.
But, being StormReady is more than just a name, and more than having a NOAA Weather Radio (although we do have those)! As recent weather events have shown, it is important to make sure we get it right when the danger is real.
In order to participate and earn the StormReady designation from the National Weather Service, several criteria have to be met. Our specific plan includes:
- A hazardous weather plan to include ice storms, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash floods.
- Operating a 24-hour watch center to monitor local weather conditions.
- Having multiple ways to: receive severe weather watches & warnings and alert our FEMA team.
- Promoting severe weather readiness through a variety of training and outreach programs for our employees and partner agencies.
2,000 – that’s the number of communities that have also achieved the StormReady status. That means those communities took the necessary steps to ensure their residents will be better prepared with severe weather threatens their area. So as you can see, earning the StormReady designation isn’t just for federal or even emergency management agencies.
Having your community, business, or organization earn the StormReady designation isn’t an extensive process – the first step is contacting your local National Weather Service office. They will let you know how to complete the application, set up an in-person visit, and even hold an optional recognition ceremony once you’ve been labeled StormReady!