VSU Recognized as StormReady Campus

| December 2, 2015

VSU StormReady

VALDOSTA — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service has named Valdosta State University a StormReady campus.

“One of the things that we must always be mindful of, that must always be job number one for each and every one of us, is to have a campus that is as safe for our students and those who work here as absolutely possible,” said Dr. Cecil P. Staton, interim president. “We can never prevent severe weather from happening, but we can prepare and we can be ready.”

Nationally, only 5.6 percent of four-year degree-granting institutions have been named a StormReady campus. Within the University System of Georgia, 13.6 percent of institutions of higher education have been recognized.

“This is the first time Valdosta State University has applied for the StormReady designation,” said Lt. Alan Rowe, emergency management specialist for the Division of Public Safety. “Applying for this designation was part of the president and chief of police’s vision to restructure the emergency management process. This reorganization was aimed at not only increasing safety for the university community but also increasing awareness that the university takes the safety of the community seriously.

“The StormReady assessment process gave us structure in which to shape our revisions of the emergency management program. The designation serves as an outside agency ‘stamp of approval’ for our hazardous weather planning and preparations.”

To be recognized as a StormReady site VSU had to establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center, have more than one method of receiving 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, and develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding exercises.

StormReady is a grass-roots program aimed at preparing communities with the communication and safety tools necessary to help save lives. With a primary goal of preparing the public with an action plan that responds to all types of severe weather threats — including tornadoes and tsunamis — this voluntary program provides clear-cut advice to community leaders and emergency managers to improve local hazardous weather operations.

Since the program’s inception in 1999, more than 2,300 counties, communities, universities, tribal nations, commercial enterprises, government offices, and military installations have been recognized as StormReady. Lowndes County has been StormReady since 2003.

More than 90 percent of all presidentially declared disasters are weather related, leading to nearly 500 deaths and over $23 billion in damage each year.

“As the university emergency management coordinator, I fully support the StormReady program,” said Rowe. “Hazardous weather is a demographic-free occurrence that strikes everyone at some point. When the skies darken and dangerous weather approaches, I want the university community to be confident that VSU has done everything in its power to keep them informed and as prepared as possible. This designation is a public approval by the National Weather Service of our accomplishments, and on-going efforts, in weather safety.”

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