Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Make Sure Ark is in the Comm Plan

The rains over the past four days can only be described as biblical in Northwest Arkansas. All ark building jokes aside, the University of Arkansas actually sent everyone home yesterday at 3:30 p.m. due to county-wide severe street flooding. I know I had do make driving pattern changes to get home like it was a snow day.

I can't claim credit for this one, my colleague Steve Dittmore in sports management posted his Facebook the coincidences: since Dec 31 we've had a 4.7 earthquake, a deadly tornado, a day of 20-plus inches of snow and now 15-plus inches of rain over a weekend. My contribution was to say don't forget the mysterious bird kill.

What does it have to do with communications? Well, if nothing else, our weather misfortune should be a reminder for you to check your emergency communications plan, and update it with some new tools.

Is social media a part of your official plan - both for monitoring and dissemination of key life safety information?

And, is NOAA weather radio part of your tool kit?

This is a lesson in old school and new school. More on the social media part in upcoming blogs as I prepare for a paper at the stadium safety conference in New Orleans later this year. In the meantime on that, don't miss that Homeand Security's new threat guidelines includes social media guidelines.

No the old school is more on my mind, the formerly promoted as weather radios. Our county declared an emergency with the flooding, and was urging people to go home and stay off the roads. Our neighboring county of Adair used the tool first - good thinking for Charlie Winn - and one of the guys in my spotter group - Scott Fendley - pointed it out to our county emergency director.

It's NOAA "All Hazards" radio now, and along with doing Amber alerts and other Homeland-type messages, counties can request a "Civil Emergency" message. Since you have the SAME coding, it will only set off weather radios in the county that you are sending the message to.

So yesterday, every weather radio tuned to Washington County, Ark., and it's SAME code got a civil emergency message - just like a tornado warning - from the county judge telling everyone to stay off the streets unless absolutely necessary.

There are guidelines and thresholds of course to the use of the NOAA system, but I would encourage you to add that to your comm plan so it is ere to remind you of it's usage in the future.

Stay dry

1 comment:

pmarshwx said...

I think you are just a double rainbow away from a weather bingo!