DEFIANCE, Ohio (WANE) – Defiance County was recognized Monday by the National Weather Service as being StormReady. The community banded together under EMA Director Julie Rittenhouse during this process, and every facet involved in the emergency planning was represented at the ceremony Monday. Defiance Fire Department and Police Department, Ohio State Police, Ohio EMA, EMA directors from nearby Ohio counties, Defiance County Commissioners, and the Sheriff all turned out to support Julie.
The StormReady process is meant to show Emergency Managers any gaps in their disaster plan or implementation, so that when severe weather strikes, those issues have already been addressed. Julie says her team learned a few things during this application process, specifically that some equipment they thought was functioning was not. They brought in the new equipment they needed and made repairs as necessary to correct that problem. They also made their emergency plans more specific to be better prepared when disaster does strike. Michael Lewis from the National Weather Service said, “The application that we received from Defiance County was one of the best applications we’ve received of the numerous that we get.”
Next year the National Weather Service office in Syracuse, IN, hopes to recognize four or five counties as StormReady, one of which will hopefully be Allen County. Allen County officials have submitted their application and are working through the process of making sure all elements are up to par. Lewis, who is the Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the National Weather Service office in northern Indiana, says it takes larger counties longer to go through the process. Counties that have a higher population must be held to the same strict standards as smaller counties, but their initiatives, trainings, and strategies are on a much larger scale. It takes time to carefully analyze all aspects of this application.
To be considered for the StormReady certification, a county must:
- maintain a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center, like a 9-1-1 dispatch center
- have more than one way to receive National Weather Service warnings and alert the public to those
- be able to monitor local weather and flood conditions
- conduct community preparedness programs
- ensure hazardous weather and flooding are addressed in formal emergency management plans, which includes holding Skywarn weather spotter training and emergency management exercises.
To see if your county or business is StormReady or to get more information about the program, go to the NWS StormReady website here.