June 30, 2004 | By: Laura Skillman

Leadership Edmonson County is always looking for community projects for class participants, and the 2003-04 class decided to help the county become StormReady.

“About two years ago I attended a seminar on homeland security and that’s when I heard about a program called StormReady,” said Christy Ramey, Edmonson County Extension agent for family and consumer science. “The assumption was if your county becomes StormReady, then they are one step closer to being prepared for any disaster. So the leadership class of 2003-04, once this program was presented to them, decided to take this on as a project.”

Only 16 Kentucky counties, four communities and two universities including UK are certified as StormReady, which is a program of the National Weather Service. Edmonson County is only the seventh of 59 counties in the NWS Louisville area to become certified, said Norm Reitmeyer, warning coordination meteorologist.

“They did an exceptional job,” he said. “I enjoyed working with several people there. I give EdmonsonCounty and the leadership group a lot of credit. They did a very thorough job.”

The program is designed to enhance community preparedness for severe storms and weather emergencies. There are six guidelines communities must meet and there are different criteria within these guidelines based on population.

Included in the requirements are establishing a 24-hour warning point; establishing an emergency operations center; a number of ways for the center to receive NWS warnings such as weather radios; a number of ways to monitor hydrometeorological data such as the internet and river gauges; a number of ways for the warnings to be disseminated to the public; weather safety talks; weather spotter training; formal hazardous weather operations plan; biennial visits to the NWS by the emergency manager; and annual visits by a NWS official to the community.

“The leadership class worked with emergency management, fire departments and others in preparing an application. Then, an onsite visit was conducted by NWS to determine if all the criteria was met,” Ramey said.

The leadership class formed committees to determine how many weather radios were on hand in public buildings, then provided those that didn’t with a radio or asked them to obtain their own. They surveyed buildings in the community and solicited funds to help pay for the radios.

“Places like the library didn’t have a weather radio and this program brought an awareness of a need for this, especially if they were going to have people in their facility when there might be a warning,” Ramey said.

The leadership program provides leadership training and promotes community service. The program began about seven years ago through WesternKentucky University.  After that first year, it was up to the county to continue the program. The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service within the county took over the program and works along with leadership alumni to conduct the program.

“This is a great program for Extension to be involved in because it helps to pull everyone in the county together and I think the role of Extension is to do just that – to work with all aspects of people in the county and to connect people who have not yet been connected,” Ramey said. “It’s important to involve as many people as possible into your programs.”

Buford Hatler, Edmonson County emergency management director, worked with the leadership class and NWS to get the county certified.

“It sounded super good to me, I thought it was a good idea,” he said. “One thing that the leadership class did that I thought was really great was a leaflet that told items that you need to be StormReady in your home and they were distributed at the grocery and on pizza boxes. I think that was a super idea.”

Terri Webb, vice president of the leadership class, said she thought when the StormReady idea was first proposed it was a great idea.

“Because of the lake we do tend to have storms that are more intense than some of the other counties and have had some in the past,” she said. “So I thought a program that could be put in place that would get the information equally to communities in the county as opposed to Brownsville , where it is more populous, would be an excellent program.”




Editor: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278
Source: Christy Ramey 270-597-3628