MOUNT VERNON — Knox County was recently recognized as the 17th county in Ohio to be certified StormReady. Representatives from the National Weather Service in Cleveland as well as meteorologist Ben Gelber from WCMH/NBC4 in Columbus were in Mount Vernon on Thursday morning to present the Knox County Commissioners, and officials from the Knox County Emergency Management Agency, with a certificate and signage upon their completion of required StormReady criteria.
“This voluntary StormReady program prepares cities, counties and towns with the communication and safety tools necessary to save lives and property,” said Gary Garnet, warning coordinator meteorologist with the NWS in Cleveland.
The top goal of the StormReady program is to prepare communities with an action plan that responds to the threat of all types of severe weather — from tornadoes to floods. It provides clear-cut advice to city or county leaders and emergency managers and media that would improve their local hazardous weather operations. To be certified StormReady, communities must:
•Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center.
•Have more than one method of retrieving severe weather forecasts and warnings and alerting the public.
•Create a system that monitors local weather conditions.
•Promote the significance of public readiness through community seminars.
•Develop a formal hazardous weather plan which includes training severe weather spotters and holding exercises.
After the application was made, an advisory board visited the appropriate locations to verify the steps made in the process to become StormReady. Knox County officials were notified in September of the approval, prompting Thursday’s official presentation.
“We appreciate Matt [Sturgeon] and Brian [Hess] for the hard work they’ve done in achieving this designation. Anytime you can achieve a recognition like this, it’s a good thing,” said commissioner Teresa Bemiller. “It’s great to have this recognition for our county.”
The county can now display signs showing it is StormReady certified, and can use the StormReady logo in official letterheads, brochures or other suitable documents. The StormReady designation is valid for two years and must be renewed after that time.