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Americans live in the most severe weather-prone country on Earth. Every year, Americans cope with an average of 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 tornadoes, and an average of two land-falling, deadly hurricanes. Add this on top of winter storms, extreme summer heat and wildfires, it becomes obvious that potentially deadly weather can impact everyone.
Communities can ensure they’re ready for all weather hazards by joining the National Weather Service’s StormReady program.
Approximately 90 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather related, causing nearly 500 deaths per year and nearly $14 billion in damage. StormReady, a program started in 1999 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, helps arm America’s communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property - before and during an event. StormReady helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen local safety programs.
StormReady communities are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through better planning, education and awareness. No community is storm proof, but StormReady can help communities save lives.
Click here to view Ohio’s StormReady sites.
To be officially certified as StormReady, a county or site must:
Ohio has a StormReady committee that consists of representatives from the National Weather Service, the Emergency Management Association of Ohio and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. This committee processes all applications for StormReady designations within the state. The certification lasts three years, then must be reviewed for recognition of an additional term.
Van Wert, OH (November 2002) This was what remained of a movie theater in Van Wert after an F4 tornado ripped through the area, which was part of a November 10-11 storm outbreak that killed 35 people. The Van Wert Cinemas manager and staff got more than 50 people out of the theaters and into safer conditions in a hallway and restrooms after a warning alert system in the theater’s office sounded.
The system is called the "Informer", a Federal Signal Corporation local warning alert system, which is activated via a digitally-encoded pager signal. That automatically turns on and sounds an alert. The theater’s unit was directly tied into the Van Wert County siren system that activates immediately when the Van Wert County Emergency Operations Center sounded the warning sirens.
Van Wert County became a StormReady community in January of 2002. "If we hadn’t gone through the StormReady process and got our warning system in place before the storm, a lot of people would not have gotten the warning and we could have lost many more lives," said Rick McCoy, Van Wert County Emergency Management Agency director. "All communities across the country need to look at becoming StormReady, because at some point they are going to have severe weather of some kind."
The tornado touched down in Van Wert County with 13 minutes lead time. The tornado struck the movie theater 28 minutes after the warning was issued.