Severe Weather Week capped with tornado drill
HUNTSVILLE, Mar 07, 2013 (The Huntsville Item - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
There were not quite tornado-type winds in Walker County this week, but there were some gusts powerful enough to toss around debris.
Just in case the weather does takes a turn for the worse in the near future, county and city officials want to make sure everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency. As part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Texas, a county-wide mock tornado drill was performed Wednesday morning in conjunction with area schools.
The Walker County Office of Emergency Management and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) set up the new Mobile Command Center at the sheriff's office to make sure radio contact was made during the drill. Firefighters and Huntsville Police Department school resources officers radioed in at the completion of the drill as did other emergency response agencies.
"Normally we would not have the Command Center up if there was a tornado, but it was a good time to make sure it was working during the drill," said Butch Davis, the county's emergency management coordinator.
There were some communication problems Wednesday, but Huntsville Fire Department Assistant Chief John Hobbs said that was the reason the county and city work closely together during drills.
"We practice all the time and everyone works well together so that when there is an emergency things go smoothly," he said. "We will get together after the tornado drill and fix the problems we were having with the radio.
"We will make sure everything works. If it doesn't then we keep having drills until it does."
Now that the local schools have gone through drills, it is a good time to remind Walker County residents to have their own plan in place in the event of severe weather hitting.
If a tornado is in the area, folks can seek shelter in an interior room on the lowest level of a home, office or other building away from windows. Avoid any area with a wide, unsupported roof such as an auditorium, gym, cafeteria or theater. Also, if people are in a car when a tornado is spotted, get out of the vehicle and take shelter in a nearby building or lie flat in a ditch or ravine.
People also need to have emergency supplies stocked in easy-to-carry containers and it is a good idea to have an emergency drill in place at home, so families know what to do in case severe weather comes.
Here is a check list of things people might need as part of their emergency supplies:
--Extra prescription medications, written copies of prescriptions, other special medical items.
--Important documents and records, photo IDs, proof of residence, information you may need to process insurance claims.
--Cash (power outages mean banks and ATMs may be unavailable).
--Battery-operated radio and Weather Radio.
--Flashlight with extra batteries.
--Phone numbers of family and friends.
--Three-day supply of non-perishable food, one gallon of bottled water per person per day.
--Coolers for food and ice storage, paper plates, plastic utensils
--Manual can opener, knife, tools, booster cables, fire extinguisher, duct tape, tarp, rope.
--Blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and extra clothing.
--Toilet paper, cleanup supplies, personal hygiene products.
--Eyeglasses, sunglasses, hearing aids.
--Special supplies needed for babies, older adults or pets.
Area residents are also reminded to check out the Walker County Office of Emergency's Facebook page to get up to the date information on severe weather or wildfires in the area. For more information on what to do in severe weather conditions, visit the Texas Division of Emergency Management website at www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem.
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