Each year dozens of
cities, counties and states across the country are affected by severe
weather. In fact, according to the
National Weather Service (NWS), nearly 90% of all presidentially declared
disasters are weather related, leading to an average of 500 deaths per year and
nearly $14 billion in damage.
Because of the
importance placed on preparing, planning, and recovery, the Chatham Emergency
Management Agency (CEMA) is committed to making sure Chatham County will be
able to survive a weather related event.
So how do communities
become StormReady? Chatham County must
meet strict guidelines to be StormReady to include: maintain a 24-hour warning
point, maintain an emergency operations center, operate communications
equipment in order to contact the NWS during severe weather, maintain local
weather and water monitoring equipment, identify ways to disseminate warnings
to the public, and encourage public preparedness. By meeting these guidelines with advanced
planning, education and awareness, our County is better prepared to save lives in
the event of severe weather.
CEMA continues to inform the
public through speaking at various functions as well as using all of the Public
Service Announcement tools to ensure our residents are kept informed on what to
do in the event of a weather emergency.
CEMA uses an interactive web based telephone service to notify residents
of impending dangerous weather conditions and/or civil/criminal emergencies. We
test this system regularly. We also
utilize social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter and a mass email system
to inform residents of critical information.
In addition, Chatham County
has 60 emergency outdoor warning sirens, covering 95% of Chatham County's
population. These sirens are placed near
high population areas to get the maximum coverage for each siren. We have also recently installed a computer system
that will automatically activate sirens in a particular area that fall under a
warning issued by the NWS.
Chatham County was
also the first county in the Georgia to have two StormReady Supporters: Tybee
Island and JCB.
"Being recognized as
a StormReady community is something the residents of Chatham County should be
proud of. With so many disasters
stemming from weather-related events, it's imperative to take a proactive
approach when it comes to responding to and recovering from these events. We have been lucky in Chatham County, but as
we enter the peak of hurricane season, we can never let our guard down. Taking steps now to reduce the impact from a
major hurricane, or any other weather related event, will help our residents
recover faster and potentially save lives," said CEMA Director Clayton