OXFORD – Oxford and the University of Mississippi were named “StormReady” communities Monday by the National Weather Service.
StormReady is a nationwide program that encourages communities to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations. To qualify, a community must meet standards for communication among emergency services; warning systems; and monitoring of precipitation and flooding.
“We applaud the Oxford city officials for their dedicated effort to making their community safer for their citizens,” said Mike Womack, executive director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. “The StormReady designation shows a true commitment disaster preparedness and saving lives and property of Oxford residents.”
Jimmy Allgood, Oxford’s emergency management coordinator, said the city and university earned the recognitions after several years of upgrading their individual and shared weather-emergency resources, including additional warning sirens, redundant communication systems and the training of new weather spotters.
Tippah County, Ecru and Pontotoc in Northeast Mississippi also are designated StormReady communities.
One of the most important parts of the StormReady preparation process helps coordinate all the others.
“We had to have a written hazardous-weather operating plan – not only to deal with tornadoes and ice storms but an action plan for (such weather as) the severely hot weather we’ve been having,” Allgood said.
Jim Windham, Ole Miss procurement director, said the StormReady award was the culmination of many years’ effort to improve campus communications about threatening weather.
“It went from six tornado sirens to e-mails, and at some point cell phone text messages were added,” Windham said. “The university now has eight or 10 methods to alert students of impending tornadoes or other severe weather.”
He added that Ole Miss and Oxford officials would be happy to share their experience.
“It’s kind of an ‘each one teach one’ effort,” Windham said.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal