When it comes to severe weather, ask yourself: “How prepared am I?” Millersville University asked that question in the spring of 2011, and since then, the University’s Center for Disaster Research and Education (CDRE) has been working to become one of only four universities in the state to receive StormReady certification.

A nationwide, voluntary initiative designed by the National Weather Service (NWS), the StormReady program helps to better communicate and prepare citizens during severe weather.

Efforts towards the certification process have gone beyond determining better preparedness and planning measures for the University as a whole. “A group of undergraduate students has been involved with this project from the beginning, and they are interested in sharing the benefits of this information with their fellow students,” said Dr. Sepi Yalda, professor of meteorology, coordinator of Millersville’s master of science in emergency management program and director of the CDRE, through which this certification is being completed.

The students are working on developing targeted training that will provide students, faculty and staff on campus with information about severe and hazardous weather and safety issues associated with these events.

“We have seen a lack of weather awareness on campus,” said Kasey Voges, senior occupational safety and environmental health major at Millersville who is one of the students involved. “This is a problem when the community does not understand the risks of severe weather and unknowingly endangers themselves and others during an emergency. The StormReady certification for Millersville University will help make our campus be more prepared to handle weather emergencies.”

Having filled out the application and completed the verification visit last summer, which brought a team from the NWS to Millersville to determine potential deficiencies, the group collaborating on this project at Millersville worked to respond to items identified in the summary statement post-visit.

Pete Anders, Millersville University’s chief of police, who was asked by Yalda to serve as emergency management coordinator from the University’s Emergency Management Team for the StormReady project, expects to have the application process completed by the end of April.

“This certification will be a statement to the commitment the University has made toward keeping our students, staff and visitors safe from weather emergencies, as well as families in our neighborhoods through joint University/community communication and preparedness,” said Anders. “Projects such as StormReady give us a foundation to plan, respond and recover from weather crises.”

Once Millersville’s application is approved the University will receive official recognition as a StormReady community – a status that lasts for three years from the date of the formal announcement.

For more information on the StormReady program or the requirements and benefits of becoming StormReady certified, visit the NWS StormReady website.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Hello,

    I am one of the undergraduate students who is part of the StormReady initiative here at Millersville University. I appreciate your desire to learn more about the initiative.

    In response to your question about what being StormReady entails,
    from the “StormReady Toolkit for Emergency Managers” found at http://www.stormready.noaa.gov/resources/toolkit.pdf,
    “To become StormReady a community or county must:
    1). Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center
    2). Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public
    3). Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally
    4). Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars
    5). Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.”

    Since the initiative here at Millersville is still a work in progress, we students are currently working with our advisor on developing training and drills. I will ensure that the suggested frequency of drills is a topic we discuss at a future meeting when we finish developing the plans for drills. At this time, that is the best answer I can give you about running scenarios; however, I am sure we will make more details available as we complete both the training plans and the StormReady application process itself.

    I hope I was able to give you some answers you were looking for. The StormReady group is also planning to create a page on the MU website, so please keep checking back for that. The website will have more information about the StormReady initiative at Millersville University and about events or activities we will be running.

    –Ann Marie

  2. What exactly would it entail to be “storm ready”? And would we run scenarios frequently enough to be “storm ready”? Don’t get me wrong i am totally for this,but if we don’t “practice what we preach” once and hopefully we get certified,all we gonna have is a piece of paper.

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