Governor Phil Bryant’s declaration that this week be dedicated to tornado preparedness in Mississippi got me to thinking. Just how prepared are we in Copiah County for tornadoes and other damaging storms?
Well, the answer is, “Absolutely.” Copiah County is one of several that has achieved Storm Ready designation with the National Weather Service. Storm Ready simply means that communities have the communication infrastructure, personnel and capabilities in place to warn citizens of oncoming severe weather–through things like weather sirens, fire department paging, radio communication, cell phones and so on. Storm Ready assures a network of schools, nursing homes, health care facilities and other large population institutions are alerted quickly through the aforementioned means.
Randle Drane, Director of Copiah County Emergency Management Agency, explained to me recently that Copiah County is really on the leading edge of emergency preparedness. The county enlists around 20 storm spotters that watch the sky to report unusual weather formations during hazardous weather situations. The Joe L. Johnson Safe Room in Gallman is opened when the NWS elevates the threat of severe weather approaching Copiah County. In fact, the safe room was opened as recently as mid-January when severe weather threatened.
This newspaper plays a part in getting the word out, too, through email and text alerts and messages on social media.
We can’t prevent storms or storm damage, but rest assured residents of our county–if accessible through the technology–will have more time to make efforts to protect ourselves and our loved ones.