StormReady Counties in the Heartland
By: Arnold Wyrick
By: Arnold Wyrick
Johnson County, IL -- When disaster strikes being properly prepared can mean the difference between life and death for many people in the path of a storm. Some Heartland communities are leading the way in becoming storm ready.
They are Johnson County, Cape County in Missouri, McCracken and Calloway Counties in Kentucky, and most recently Pulaski County in Southern Illinois. Carbondale and Du Quoin are the only two Storm Ready communities certified by the National Weather Service.
But it was the folks in Johnson County who lead the way to being ready when disaster strikes. The county became the first StormReady County, in the Heartland to be certified by the National Weather Service, in 2001.
"The information from the storm spotters in the field, we know is going to be accurate. And not just somebody saying I seen a cloud. It looks like it's spinning, it could be a tornado," says Johnson County 911 Assistant Coordinator William Barrett.
Barrett adds that having the latest technology and trained personnel manning the emergency center around the clock were key factors in becoming a StormReady County.
"We're able to take that information and apply it to maybe the next town, or the next place that is going to get it. To get the emergency personnel where they need to be," Barrett said.
Barrett says having the certification from the National Weather Service opens the lines on communication to better prepare folks in the county when a storm is approaching.
"We have a lot of tornadoes, and a lot of severe weather. And I believe having the storm spotters, and the community alert system in Goreville set up, is an advantage to all the residents in Johnson County," Barrett said.
Now several other organizations throughout the community are joining the StormReady team to help out.
"We're looking at ways the churches can come together during a time of crisis, and disasters. To share resources and personnel, so we can help those who need it the most, much quicker," says Keith Bradley of the Ministerial Alliance.
And folks in Johnson County take some comfort in knowing that even more eyes and ears will be watching as the severe weather season develops here in the Heartland. More than 25 people were recently certified as storm spotters, during training classes in April, with the National Weather Service.