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County earns national distinction for emergency preparedness efforts

Posted on 11/20/2018
County earns national distinction for emergency preparedness efforts

In recognition of the many ways that the Weld County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) works to ensure continued readiness during an emergency, the National Weather Service has named Weld County a StormReady County.

“No matter the event, blizzards, flooding or tornadoes, emergencies can develop quickly,” Weld County Commissioner Chair Steve Moreno said. “OEM has done great work to make sure we are ready to respond when our residents need us. It’s great for those efforts to be recognized nationally.”

The success of emergency preparedness efforts can be difficult to measure. Recognition from programs like StormReady provide validation to OEM that its plans, procedures, and goals are consistent and match up well with standards set by the weather service.

“Because many of our disasters are weather related, it’s important we get information out and keep our communities informed,” said Merrie Garner, Emergency Management Coordinator. “StormReady is one way to keep ourselves on track by doing what we need to do to be ready as an emergency management agency and also as a community.”

OEM works diligently each year to ensure Weld County government and residents are prepared for emergencies. These efforts include facilitating Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) meetings. These meetings allow staff to meet with first responders who assist the county in emergency response and to work on ways to improve elements of response plans. Garner also hosts various trainings centered on helping residents recognize the importance of emergency preparedness and hosts a weather spotting training, which teaches residents how to recognize severe weather. Last August, OEM hosted a four-day Integrated Emergency Management Training led by 10 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) instructors. The training was attended by 17 different agencies throughout Weld County.

The efforts are just a few of the things that garnered OEM the distinction of being StormReady. According to the National Weather Service web site, several criteria must be met including: the establishment of a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center; the creation of one or more ways to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings, as well as multiple ways to alert the public; the creation of a system that monitors local weather conditions; promotion of the importance of preparedness through training and safety drills; and the development of a formal hazardous weather plan.

For more information about the StormReady program, visit https://www.weather.gov/stormready. To learn more about OEM, visit www.weldoem.com.