Today I was notified by the National Weather Service that Galveston County has been awarded a “StormReady” certification and is now officially a “StormReady” community. Galveston County is one of three counties in the region that holds this sought after certification.
“StormReady” is a “grass roots” program sponsored by The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service that focuses on improving communications and severe weather preparedness in the county. It helps our leaders and emergency managers strengthen local hazard mitigation and emergency response plans. From tornadoes to tsunamis, floods to winter storms, and wildfires to hurricanes, our county will be better prepared knowing they have the best possible chance of being warned before a weather disaster strikes.
So what did it take for us to win this prestigious award? Lots of hard work by very dedicated people. Special thanks to Major Ray Tuttoilmondo and the dedicated Sheriff’s Department Communications Officers who operate the 24-hour warning center.
The specifics of what Galveston County did to become “StormReady” are listed below:
1. Incorporation of our community severe weather threats matrix into our comprehensive emergency management plan.
2. Established a 24-hour Warning Point (Galveston County Sheriff Department 911 Dispatch Center) and our Emergency Operations Center located at the Emergency Management Facility in League City.
3. Established multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings and alert the public by using systems such as;
- Mass Notification (Reverse 911) Blackboard Connect
- Clear Channel Highway Electronic Billboards (Interstate 45)
- Texas Department of Transportation Dynamic Message Boards
- IPAWS – Integrated Public Alert & Warning System
- Public Information Emergency Response
4. Created a countywide system to monitor weather and report those conditions to the National Weather Service via telephone, radio, social networks and email.
5. All-hazards specific area message encoding radios were installed in all 4 schools in unincorporated Galveston County. Encoders were also installed at the Sheriff Department, Crystal Beach Annex and the Justice of the Peace in Bacliff.
6. Promote the importance of public readiness through countywide seminars, severe weather spotter training and by conducting emergency exercises.
This “StormReady” certification will encourage our county to take a proactive approach in improving local hazardous weather operations and ensuring our citizens and elected officials are better prepared to deal with weather threats and other emergencies.
David J. Popoff, TEM
County of Galveston
Emergency Management Coordinator