By Adrienne AndersonJuly 10, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (July 13, 2013) -- With hurricane season in full swing and summer heat often leading to other types of severe weather, members of the Fort Benning community can take solace in the fact they are part of a StormReady community.
The National Weather Service granted the StormReady designation to Fort Benning after the installation took the necessary steps to be considered for the program.
NWS StormReady is a nationwide program to help communities, universities and installations better protect their citizens, students, Soldiers, Families and workforce during severe weather incidents.
Terry Wydra, the installation's emergency manager, said it was important that Soldiers and Family members of Fort Benning know the installation is prepared to deal with the threat of severe weather.
"One of the biggest incentives was to be recognized as a prepared community," he said. "It was also big for us to be the first Army installation in the state of Georgia to receive this recognition."
The program encourages communities and military installations to take a proactive approach to improve local preparation and readiness for hazardous weather conditions.
Wydra said newcomers' briefings have a segment devoted to ensuring that each Family living on post has an emergency plan.
"We have things we try to educate them on, like having a weather radio that's set up properly or having a safe room in case of severe weather," he said. "Everybody needs to have an emergency plan."
StormReady provides emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations along with providing recommended local procedures designed to reduce the potential for disastrous, weather-related consequences. There is no cost to apply to the StormReady Program.
In order to be considered StormReady, a community must establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center, have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts, have more than one way to alert the public, create a system that monitors weather conditions locally, promote the independence of public readiness through community seminars and develop a formal hazardous weather plan that includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
In order to meet these requirements, the Emergency Management Office obtained more than 300 weather radios it distributed to units and Families across Fort Benning.
Additional Giant Voice warning system poles were also constructed, bringing the number of poles on the installation to 18.
"We had several different mechanisms before, but the big thing is that they are all working together now," Wydra said.
After submitting the application to the National Weather Service, an on-site review was conducted here to ensure all requirements had been met.
An NWS board then voted in February to approve Fort Benning's StormReady certification, which is good for three years.
"It was a great sense of accomplishment," Wydra said. "There was a lot of time and effort that went into this, not just from the Emergency Management Office, but from our weather forecasters, 911 operators and others in the Installation Operations Center."