Are you StormReady?

As Gulf Coast states prepare for Hurricane Isaac, we are reminded that it is never too late to make sure we are prepared for hurricane season which ends Nov. 30 but peaks from mid-August until mid-October.

The Weather Channel predicts that 2012 will be a near-average hurricane season with 13 named storms, six of which are expected to become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher). Though this is slightly below the average season, local governments should be asking themselves “What can we do to better prepare our communities for any storm-related disasters?”

Nearly 90 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather-related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $14 billion in damage. To help Americans guard against the ravages of severe weather, the National Weather Service (NWS) has designed the StormReady program. StormReady arms America’s communities with the communication and safety skills they need to save lives and property.

What is the StormReady program?

StormReady is a voluntary, nationwide program that helps communities better protect their citizens during severe weather from tornadoes to tsunamis, including hurricanes. The program encourages communities to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations. StormReady provides emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations.

To be certified as StormReady, communities must meet guidelines established by the NWS in partnership with federal, state, and local emergency management professionals. The StormReady program is intended to:

  • Improve the timeliness and effectiveness of hazardous weather warnings for the public.
  • Provide detailed and clear recommendations which will help local emergency managers establish and improve effective hazardous weather operations.
  • Help local emergency managers justify costs and purchases needed to support their hazardous weather-related program.
  • Reward local hazardous-weather mitigation programs that have achieved a desired performance level.
  • Provide a means of acquiring additional Community Rating System points assigned by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Provide an image incentive to communities, which once certified, can identify themselves as StormReady.
  • Encourage the enhancement of hazardous weather preparedness programs in jurisdictions surrounding StormReady communities and counties.

How will becoming StormReady benefit my community?

When your major roads display StormReady signs, residents, business owners and visitors know you are committed to safety and preparedness. StormReady tells the community that their emergency management staff takes safety seriously.

What do we have to do?

To become StormReady a community or county must:

  • Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center.
  • Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public.
  • Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

How do we get started?

Go online to the NWS StormReady page and complete the four step process to becoming StormReady. Submit your completed application to your local NWS office. You can find your local office online by county online.

While much of the application is a basic list of technology, you will need to provide a brief narrative describing preparedness and planning activities to help staff members assess programs such as your hazardous weather plan, emergency exercises, and public safety programs.

Once your application is reviewed by StormReady Review Board, a team will arrange for a visit to your community to discuss the application. The review board will notify you of any deficiencies or approve your office and recommend that your community be recognized. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Once your application is reviewed by StormReady Review Board, a team will arrange for a visit to your community to discuss the application. The review board will notify you of any deficiencies or approve your office and recommend that your community be recognized. This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

What does the program cost?

There is no cost to apply to the StormReady program. You may need to upgrade your emergency preparedness operation to meet StormReady criteria. Established Emergency Management programs may incur little or no additional expense.

StormReady Web site information

For more information and an application, look for the StormReady Toolkit for Emergency Managers in the Multimedia Library

VMLIP offers more than just coverage. We are partners in risk management. How does your insurer stack up? Having all lines of coverage with VMLIP ensures that your organization is receiving comprehensive coverage and a wide variety of value-added services tailored to Virginia’s local governmental entities. Call for a quote today: (800) 963-6800. For more information on VMLIP visit: www.vmlins.org or follow us on Facebook.

** VMLIP blog postings are offered for VMLIP members to utilize in strengthening their risk management efforts. See copyright information for clarification on sharing this information.

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About VML Insurance Programs

Director of Communications, VML Insurance Programs
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