When it comes to being prepared for natural disasters, especially weather-related events, Genesee County is flying above the storm.
That was the message shared this afternoon by Judith Levan, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service’s Buffalo Office, as she announced the county’s standing as an NWS StormReady community.
Levan and Mike Fries, NWS warning coordination meteorologist, presented the StormReady office sign and certificate, to Tim Yaeger, coordinator of the county’s Emergency Management Services department, at a meeting of the County Legislature’s Public Service Committee at the Old County Courthouse.
“It is with great pleasure that I am here to represent the National Weather Service to present a StormReady community sign to Genesee County for its efforts to become recognized as a Storm Ready community,” she said. “In particular, I’d like to extend our sincere appreciation to Tim Yaeger … for the tremendous effort he has exhibited to accomplish the goals set forth in the program.”
Levan said that EMS employees have cultivated a strong working relationship with the Buffalo NWS Office, adding that she and her staff “recognize the diligent effort to maintain community readiness in anticipation of natural disasters of any type.”
“We do not look forward to any other natural disasters, however, if and when another does occur, you can be confident that officials in the county have improved their communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property. You are an excellent example for other municipalities in New York State and I applaud you for your efforts,” she said.
Noting that severe weather or flood warnings are ineffective if they aren’t communicated to those potentially affected, Levan said that the Genesee County-NWS partnership is such that “all aspects of communication, warning reception and response are sufficient as possible and that there are many backups in place in case one or more systems fail.”
She said that several requirements must be met to be recognized as a StormReady community:
-- The establishment of a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
-- Having multiple ways to receive severe weather forecasting warnings to alert the public;
-- Creating a system that monitors local weather conditions;
-- Promoting the importance of public readiness through community seminars and education;
-- Developing a formal hazardous weather plan that includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency response exercises.
“StormReady communities have the improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property before and during the event,” Levan said. “I’m happy to say that Genesee County has not only met these criteria, but has substantially exceeding them in many categories.”
Photo: From left, Legislator Gordon Dibble, Tim Yaeger, Judith Levan and Mike Fries. Photo by Mike Pettinella.