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Severe Weather Week highlights awareness, preparation

Jennifer Sprouse • Feb 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM

During the past couple of years Northeast Tennessee has dealt with a variety of severe weather, including tornadoes, flooding, ice, fast-accumulating snow and damaging winds.

And while predictions for chances of severe weather are mentioned and watched closely, the intensity of the storm remains unknown until the actual event.

Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, National Severe Weather Preparedness Week began Sunday and ends Saturday, and features the theme “Be a Force of Nature.” The event is a nationwide effort to increase awareness of severe weather, as well as encourage everyone to prepare and gather necessary supplies to ride out whatever Mother Nature throws their way.

Chad Bruckman, operations and training officer with the Washington County/Johnson City EMA, said the agency also will be promoting severe weather preparedness locally this week.

“We’re going to review all of our emergency operations plans (and) our emergency operations center plan. We’re going to make sure (the) emergency operation center’s ... technology and everything in it is working, that (way) we’ll be prepared if we have to use that,” he said. “On Wednesday ... we’ve asked the schools to do tornado drills.”

He said the preparedness activities are a “result of kind of being taken off guard by the tornadoes in 2011. We did a lot of preparedness before that, but never ... as much as we do now. This week kind of prepares the community. We’re trying to get (the community) to be thinking about springtime.”

Bruckman said the region’s severe weather season is at its height in the springtime and runs through mid-November. While the official start of spring may seem far away, he said it’s never too early to start gathering emergency preparedness items such as:

— severe weather radio,

— AM/FM powered radio,

— home preparedness kit,

— one gallon of water per person, per day for up to 72 hours,

— non-perishable food items,

— flashlight with extra batteries,

— extra medication, and

— cash.

“Have a little bit of cash always on hand because (if) the power goes out, you can’t use your credit cards,” Bruckman said. “Just your basic things. Have a list of your medications in case the house does get destroyed.”

He said Tennesseans can also visit www.tnema.org to sign up for a mobile preparedness app called ReadyTN, available for both iPhone and Android users.

Bruckman said listening to local media, elected officials and emergency responders during severe weather is also important.

“The biggest thing that we find is we get the information out, but people don’t use it,” Bruckman said. “The ... thing we want to get across is ... be prepared, follow our advice.”

For more information and tips on preparedness, visit www.johnsoncitytn.org/EMA or www.Ready.gov/severeweather.

For more information on the different types of severe weather, visit www.weather.gov and www.ready.gov/severeweather.

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