Staying Prepared For Upcoming Severe Weather Season

EMA's Family Emergency Planning Day


By Heather VacLav

As severe weather awareness week comes to a close, the city of Montgomery is starting to prepare the public for the upcoming severe weather season.

The city of Montgomery‘s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) hosted its Family Emergency Planning Day at Eastdale Mall. But after last year's record breaking tornado outbreaks across the state, the annual event were much more than booths and brochures.
The National Weather Service was just one of several agencies spread out near the ice rink in Eastdale Mall. It had a tornado simulator at its booth where children stood and stared in awe.
”Everything has to be just right for a tornado to form,” said John De Block, a warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service, to a little girl.
De Block has been at the event the past three years and says this year has a different tone. “There's kind of a seriousness to it, everybody realizes that this is a simulation of a tornado of something very real for the people in Alabama,” he said.
Next to the National Weather Service’s booth was part of the EMA’s set-up showing the dangers of mixing electricity with water. A woman in rubber gloves and protective goggles showed an electric shock as a miniature power line came in contact with a person in water.
While weather awareness wasn't the only emergency or hazard being showcased, most families said after April's tornadoes, it was their number one concern.
“Instead of waiting if I hear something or if anything is blowing around outside, I will probably at least turn on the radar to look because you never know [if it will happen to you],” said Carolyn Nixon of Montgomery.
“Last year [the April 15th tornado] developed over our house,” Jeffrey McQueen of Prattville said. “It could have easily landed on our house, so I really pay attention to it now. We respect bad weather, you have to. If you don't you're going to regret it later.”
Onlookers could hear the National Weather Service’s weather radio sounding off with information about the coming week’s forecast. DeBlock says it’s one of the most important tools during severe weather.
DeBlock reminds the public that not every storm will be as bad as April 27th, but says Alabamians should still be smart about preparing.
“We’ve got TV Meteorologists, we've got the national weather service, there's even free services now that people can sign up for, so there's no excuse to not get the information that severe weather is coming,” DeBlock said.
Regardless of the emergency or hazard, the Montgomery EMA says every family should have a plan, including a safe place and at least three days worth of food and supplies.
“If you're prepared for all hazards then you're prepared for severe weather,” said Mike Stoudenmier, Director of the Montgomery EMA.
In addition to the weather radio, the National Weather Service and WAKA's Weather Network recommend these free services:
Alabama SAF-T-Net (Spefic Alerting for Threats): Free text messages, email and phone calls
WAKA Online Interactive Radar:

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