The Bayonet

Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013

Safety means storm ready at every garrison

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SAN ANTONIO — According to the National Weather Service, Americans live in the most severe-weather-prone country on Earth.

Weather disasters in the United States account for around 500 deaths and nearly $14 billion in damage each year. Americans can expect to face an average of 100,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 tornadoes and two deadly hurricanes making landfall in the same time period.

And this doesn’t even include intense summer heat or winter cold, high winds, wild fires or other deadly weather impacts. U.S. Army installations are impacted by the same severe weather, directly affecting Army property, personnel and mission. U.S. Army Installation Management Command’s goal is to ensure that every garrison is prepared for severe weather — maximizing safety and minimizing damage.

In July 2012, the Installation Management Command Provost Marshal/Protection Office sent a memorandum to Region Emergency Management Coordinators and Garrison Emergency Managers encouraging the expansion of IMCOM’s stateside installations (including Alaska and Hawaii) participating in the National Weather Service StormReady certification program.

NWS StormReady is a nationwide program to help communities, universities and installations better protect their citizens, students, Soldiers, Families and workforce during severe weather incidents.

This program encourages communities and military installations to take a proactive approach to improve local preparation and readiness for hazardous weather conditions. StormReady provides emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations along with providing recommended local procedures designed to reduce the potential for disastrous, weather-related consequences. There is no cost to apply to the StormReady Program.

Eleven IMCOM garrisons have completed the NWS process for “StormReady” certification so far: Carlisle Barracks, Detroit Arsenal, Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, Fort Leavenworth, Fort Rucker, Fort Sill, Rock Island Arsenal and Camp Humphreys, Korea.

In the past few months, Americans have experienced several severe storms. Oklahoma has had multiple tornados this year, with severe financial damage and almost 100 lives lost. In Mississippi, ice storms and tornados left thousands without power and several dead. Texas tornados killed at least six people. In March 2013, AccuWeather’s long range forecasters predicted a severe storm season during the mid-spring and early summer of this year.

“It looks like everybody is going to be vulnerable to severe weather this year from the Gulf of Mexico in early April up to the Midwest by late in the spring and early summer,” said Dan Kottlowski, Accuweather Senior Meteorologist.

The best way to save lives during a severe weather event is to be prepared as much as possible, which includes ensuring the proper planning, education and awareness exist throughout the community. To save lives, get ready. StormReady.

For more information on the StormReady program, visit www.stormready.noaa.gov. Call IMCOM’s point of contact for StormReady at 210-466-0518.

Frequently asked questions

Q: What is StormReady?

A: NWS designed StormReady to help communities better prepare for and mitigate effects of extreme weather-related events. StormReady also helps establish a commitment to creating an infrastructure and systems that will save lives and protect property. Receiving StormReady recognition does not mean that a community is storm proof, but StormReady communities will be better prepared when severe weather strikes.

Q: What is the difference between StormReady and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program?

A: StormReady is a volunteer program separate from FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program; however, the two programs compliment each other by focusing on communication, mitigation and community preparedness to save lives.

Q: Is StormReady a grant program?

A: No. There is no grant money associated with being recognized as “StormReady;” however, the Insurance Services Organization may provide Community Ratings System points to StormReady communities, which may be applied toward lowering National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance rates.

Q: With regard to the NWS StormReady program, I’ve heard that some communities may be eligible for rate reductions in the NFIP. How do I find out more, and how does my community apply for rate reductions?

A: FEMA manages the NFIP. As part of the NFIP, the Community Rating System is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain activities which exceed minimum NFIP requirements. Provide your regional NFIP representative a copy of the StormReady recognition letter.

Q: Will it cost my community anything?

A: There is no fee for StormReady recognition, however your community may need to upgrade its emergency preparedness infrastructure to qualify for StormReady status.

Q: Is other funding, beside the NWS, available to help us become orimprove our StormReady program? (i.e., government/private sector?)

A: NWS does not provide any funding; however, other government and/or private sector partners may work with your community to upgrade your emergency preparedness operations.

Q: Why is the NWS requiring me to do this?

A: StormReady is a voluntary program, but we think it is worth your investment because it can save lives and property. The NWS recognizes those communities that are better prepared for weather emergencies.

Q: I saw the StormReady guidelines on the national website. Why does my local NWS Office have different guidelines?

A: National StormReady guidelines set minimum requirements for the program. Many local areas have specific weather-related needs that local NWS offices consider during weather emergency planning. As a result, StormReady allows the creation of local StormReady advisory boards that have the flexibility to create specific by-laws for their area. Local boards also can modify national StormReady guidelines to meet their specific customer needs.

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