Texas Emergency Management ONLINE2012 Vol. 59 No. 5

Message From The Chief

Wildfire awareness
Chief Kidd and members of the City Commission, Carthage Improvement Corporation and the Panola County Emergency Management Team at the City of Carthage ribbon cutting ceremony for the city’s new community shelter.

One of the hardest types of severe weather to predict is a tornado. Springtime is usually the high time for tornadoes – and they can strike without warning. Already this year Texas has experienced numerous tornadoes that have damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes. Yet, thankfully, no lives were lost.

Residents of the affected communities have begun to return home, sift through wreckage and begin repairs. My thoughts and prayers are with the survivors of these devastating storms, and the first responders and volunteers who immediately began response operations to begin providing needed assistance.

Being aware of your surroundings and developing weather in your area has life-saving implications. Since 1950, there have been 58 tornadoes in the United States with winds exceeding 200 mph; six in 2011 alone. Only three hurricanes have made U.S. landfall with winds more than 155 mph. The 2011 season had the most tornadoes in a single day and a single month on record.

It’s crucial that our residents have a safe place to go when tornadoes strike. One major way that Texans can protect themselves and their families is by going directly to a tornado safe room. Assistance for construction of tornado safe rooms is available to individuals and families, as well as to communities in high or moderate tornado risk areas. FEMA, with TDEM support, provides financial assistance to local communities to encourage the construction of both types.

Not all areas are subject to the same level of tornado risk. The first step is to check the State Mitigation Plan to see if your county is in a high or moderate risk area. In addition, to participate in the state’s mitigation grants, your community mitigation plan has to be current, and you need to have attained the ‘basic’ level on your Local Emergency Management plan.

Take the time now to invest in your community’s awareness and preparedness for future storms. Visit the following links to learn more about programs to help prepare for these types of severe weather events.

Tornado Safety
Texas Community Tornado Safe Room Fact Sheet
Texas Individual Tornado Safe Room Rebate Fact Sheet

Other Helpful Links
All About Tornadoes
Home Remodeling and Repair Guidance
National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center
National Weather Service's summary of 2011 tornado season
Surviving Disaster: How Texans Prepare

Chief W. Nim Kidd, CEM®
Follow @chiefkidd on Twitter

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