October 18, 2016, Worcester County joined the ranks of communities throughout the United States that are recognized by the National Weather Service Office (NWS) as StormReady. At the Commissioners meeting, NWS Wakefield Warning Coordination Meteorologist Bill Sammler presented the Commissioners and Worcester County Emergency Services (WCES) Director Fred Webster with StormReady Certification.
“The Town of Ocean City and Wicomico County were previously designated StormReady,” Sammler said. “Today Somerset County and Worcester County join them.”
The NWS StormReady program recognizes communities that implement specific safety measures to prepare for and respond to severe weather hazards and help save lives. Worcester County met the StormReady criteria due to the efforts of WCES staff who distributed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios to schools and other government office buildings; co-hosts SKYWARN weather spotter training classes for the general public at Wor-Wic Community College, with Dorchester, Somerset, and Wicomico Counties and the Town of Ocean City; and provides weather awareness during Community Emergency Response Training programs. WCES also distributes information at events that include Blessing of the Combines, Great Pocomoke Fair, Worcester County Fair. WCES staff are also available to speak to community, civic and church groups.
Each Worcester County public school and the Board of Education Transportation office have NOAA Weather Radios. County vehicles with a radio on the county 800 MHz radio system and individuals assigned 800 MHz radios receive NWS alerts. The public can also receive these weather warnings through the CodeRED alerting system.
“No community is storm proof, but every community can be StormReady,” Webster said. “Those who sign up on the county website, www.co.worcester.md.us, and register through the CodeRED link will receive thunderstorm, tornado and flash flood warnings on their landlines or cellular phones by way of email or text.
To qualify for StormReady Certification, a community must establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center; have redundant communications systems to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the public; create a system that monitors local weather conditions; promote public readiness through community seminars; and develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and hosting emergency exercises.
“Department heads and staff come together as a team in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in advance of storms and other natural disasters to keep the public prepared and informed,: Commission President Jim Bunting said. “I’d like to publicly thank these individuals for their roles in keeping the County StormReady.”
Worcester County provides resources and training, so residents can be storm ready too. Twice a year, WCES offers free Community Emergency Response Training (CERT), an informative, hands-on, educational program to equip residents, who have no prior emergency medical training, to support their families and communities during a disaster. WCES also developed the Family Emergency Preparedness Guide to help residents draft emergency plans. Guides are available at the Worcester County Government Center in Snow Hill, branch libraries, and the county website.