Shelby County EMA is ‘storm ready’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Regardless of when severe weather strikes the area again, Shelby County will be ready.

The county recently became the 27th StormReady county in the state, earning the designation from the National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Jason Wright from the National Weather Service office in Calera said the designation is not a small accomplishment.

&uot;This feat is not easily achieved,&uot; he said.

The county earned the designation by performing the following requirements:

* Establishing a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center

* Having more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts, and to alert the public

* Creating a system that monitors local weather conditions

* Promoting the importance of public readiness through community seminars

* Developing a formal hazardous weather plan that includes training severa weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

&uot;You do everything possibly that you can do before and during an event to mitigate the loss of life,&uot; Wright said.

Shelby County Emergency Management Agency Director Don Greene said notifying the public is key to saving lives.

&uot;It’s our job to notify residents to the best of our ability,&uot; he said. &uot;We have an obligation to our citizens.&uot;

Greene said the county plans to apply for grant funding to place an additional 19 weather sirens across the county, and to provide additional weather radios for schools, day care centers, senior citizens centers and other locations.

He also encourages local residents to purchase a radio.

&uot;It’s one of the best investments you can make,&uot; he said. &uot;I can assure you that you won’t sleep through it.&uot;

The United States is the most severe weather-prone country on earth, according to the National Weather Service. Each year there are 10,000 thunderstorms, 2,500 floods, 1,000 tornadoes and 10 hurricanes that impact the United States.

Alabama is among the most storm-prone states in the nation, with threats of hurricanes, floods and tornadoes possible throughout the year.

It’s been 32 years since a F4 tornado or higher came though the county. In 1973, an F4 hit Montevallo and other west Alabama cities.

According to local television meteorologist James Spann, the county is due for another serious storm.

&uot;Shelby County is statistically overdue,&uot; he said. &uot;That why (the designation) is a big deal.