By Tameka Kenan-Norman, City of Rocky Mount
Rocky Mount Emergency Management officials urge city residents to prepare for severe weather that may occur with little to no warning this spring.
March 5-11, 2017, is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in North Carolina. Rocky Mount officials urge residents to participate in the annual statewide tornado drill Wednesday to practice their emergency plan in case severe weather strikes our state.
“Spring is quickly approaching and so is the potential for severe weather,” said Division Chief Donnie Daniels of the Rocky Mount Fire Department. Daniels also serves as the city’s Emergency Management coordinator.
“Severe thunderstorms involve a variety of weather conditions such as hail, flash floods and tornadoes. These storms can develop so rapidly that having a plan in place beforehand is critical. The best way to prepare is to have a family emergency plan, assemble a supply kit and stay alert by listening to local radio, television or a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) radio for information on severe weather.”
Area schools and businesses will participate in the statewide tornado drill March 8, 2017, at 9:30am. The National Weather Service (NWS) will broadcast the drill through the NOAA weather radios and the Emergency Alert System.
“Practice makes perfect rings true when it comes to preparing for severe weather. The time you take now to prepare will make all the difference if and when disaster strikes,” Daniels said.
In 2016, the NWS issued 61 tornado warnings for North Carolina and recorded 16 tornadoes. There were 121 flash flood warnings issued last year and 121 incidents of flash flooding across the state, many of which were associated with Hurricane Matthew. In addition, the NWS issued 697 severe thunderstorm warnings and recorded 827 incidents of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and/or large hail.
Rocky Mount Emergency Management officials recommend having a family emergency plan in place so all members know where to go, who to call, and what to do during a disaster. Officials also recommend staying alert by listening to weather radios that broadcast alerts from the National Weather Service.
Emergency officials recommend residents use the following safety tips:
- Know the terms: WATCH means a tornado is possible. WARNING means a tornado has been spotted; take shelter immediately.
- Know where the nearest safe room is, such as a basement or interior room away from windows. Go to the safe room immediately if you hear or see a tornado.
- If driving, you should leave your vehicle immediately to seek safety in an adequate structure. Do not try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle, and do not stop under an overpass or a bridge.
- If you are outdoors and there is no shelter available, take cover in a low-lying flat area. Watch out for flying debris.
- Following a storm, wear sturdy shoes, long sleeves and gloves when walking on or near debris, and be aware of exposed nails and broken glass.
- Be aware of damaged power or gas lines and electrical systems that may cause fires, electrocution or explosions.
More information on severe weather and overall emergency preparedness can be found online at www.ReadyNC.org. Emergency officials encourage residents to download the free ReadyNC mobile app.
Tools for helping to create emergency plans and additional emergency management resources can be found at www.rockymountnc.gov/departments___services/fire. You may also contact Division Fire Chief Donnie Daniels at Donnie.Daniels@rockymountnc.gov or by calling 252.972.1378.