November 11, 2005 | By: Aimee Nielson
LEXINGTON, Ky.

Recent tornadoes and severe weather in western Kentucky and Indiana have made many people aware that storm preparedness is the key to surviving weather emergencies. The Breathitt County Extension office recently was named the first in the nation to be recognized by the National Weather Service as a StormReady Supporter.

University of Kentucky Agricultural Meteorologist Tom Priddy developed the NWS criteria for Cooperative Extension offices to become StormReady Supporters.

“Extension’s role is to provide a service to Kentuckians,” Priddy said. “We want our professionals to improve their ability to be prepared for and respond to emergencies. If we learn to help ourselves first, we will be more ready to help our clients – the people who depend on us for information. Breathitt County is the first, but hopefully all Kentucky counties will want to follow suite.”

StormReady Supporter criteria include having a communications plan for emergencies; NWS reception capability, including the presence of a NOAA weather radio; access to radar data via Internet, radio or television; a way to disseminate emergency information; office staff education; and working with local emergency officials to carry out preparedness plans. Specific criteria details can be viewed online athttp://wwwagwx.ca.uky.edu/criteria2.htm.

Breathitt County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences Martha Yount led the way for her county to achieve StormReady Supporter status.

“We may not need to worry about the hurricanes and tsunamis here in Kentucky,” she said. “But every year we experience flooding, snow, ice, and heavy winds. It only makes sense to be prepared.”

Yount said the certification process didn’t take long to complete and added that it wasn’t difficult to accomplish. She is hopeful other counties will want to get on board soon.

“It just makes everything go smoothly in case of severe weather during work hours or when holding an after-hours meeting," 
Yount said.  "We may never need any of the supplies or the action plan, but it is a sense of relief that we would know what to do and be prepared."

Priddy said the idea behind county offices becoming certified is to encourage employees to think about preparedness.

“Maybe they will go home and prepare a disaster kit for their family,” he said. “Maybe they will come up with their own personal communications plan and tell their neighbors. As we saw in Louisiana and other places struck by weather emergencies this year, sometimes it takes awhile for help to come, so we need to learn to help ourselves in the meantime.”

The UK weather center is offering a free NOAA weather radio to the first county Extension office in each district to complete a two-hour NWS basic, severe weather training session. For more information contact Priddy at (859) 257-3000, ext. 245.

 

Contact: 

Writer: Aimee Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Tom Priddy 859-157-3000, ext. 245