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Your mass notification plan for tornadoes

According to National Weather Service records, for a single week in mid-April 2011, at least 97 tornadoes tore a path of death and destruction. These twisters resulted in a reported 45 deaths and impacted a total of 12 states including Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Illinois, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland. In North Carolina, the storms destroyed more than 130 homes and damaged more than 700.

Time is of the essence when storms develop into tornadoes. When these severe weather incidents are on the horizon, or after they’ve weaved through your area, you want to be prepared to quickly provide information to citizens.

Severe Weather Notification Before the Storm

No emergency management program should be without an automated notification system which recognizes your location and that of the inbound weather. CodeRED Weather Warning’s innovative technology can alert citizens and help them prepare to protect themselves and their property.

An automated severe weather monitoring system will prove to be an invaluable communications tool and will give public safety and elected officials greater peace of mind knowing that citizens will receive warnings rapidly and without the need for human intervention.

Recently, Aiken County, South Carolina Emergency Management Coordinator, David Ruth, came face to face with the importance of severe weather notification. Ruth’s son was awakened by a severe weather alert delivered to his phone just minutes before a storm knocked over a tree and damaged the family’s home. “Since safety of the citizens is my job, I encourage everyone to sign up for CodeRED Weather Warning alerts,” said Ruth.

Mass Notification After the Tornado

Life Safety Information: Often injuries and deaths occur after tornadoes due to carelessness and lack of public education and awareness. Safety messages should be disseminated to the public periodically warning of the dangers that they will be facing and how to safely go about cleaning up their property and neighborhood. Carbon monoxide poisoning, chainsaw accidents, electrocutions and careless use of matches and candles are major contributors to the steep rise in injuries and deaths following a tornado event. The use of emergency notification during this time is paramount.

Damage Assessment Gathering: Utilizing mass notification to ask the public to report areas throughout the region that received destruction will assist in determining where Damage Assessment Teams need to survey. It should also capture human needs segments that require immediate attention.

Recovery and Re-Entry Information: Recovery and re-entry plans will depend on the amount of devastation that impacted the area. Informing the public what the plan is for the community will be a work in progress daily. Mass notification can assist in delivering these messages directly to citizens.

Update Victim Services Information: Keep citizens updated with pertinent disaster assistance information such as shelter facilities, mass feeding locations, family assistance locations, POD locations, etc.

Public Assistance Information: Should the jurisdiction receive a Federal Disaster Declaration which provides FEMA and SBA assistance to citizens, the Emergency Manager will need to employ every means of public notification available to disseminate this information. Citizens will require information from the EOC advising them of Disaster Assistance locations, hours of service, what services are available to them and how they can receive more detailed information.

Automated severe weather alerts delivered prior to the storm and informational messages delivered after the tornado will be remembered by citizens as a proactive approach to emergency planning and recovery.