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How prepared is Emmet County?

By Staff | Jul 8, 2008

Editor’s note: This is the first story in a three-part series on how Emmet County is prepared to handle disaster situations.

Living in the Midwest has many positive and beneficial qualities and each one of us has personal choices as to what these benefits are and what they mean to our lives.

About the only drawback is something that affects humans universallydestructive weather and upsetting and frustrating aftermath.

Communities in Emmet County are notified of severe or potentially severe weather by the following means, including:

n TV and radio. “We have several radio stations that can be turned to for the current weather forecasts, weather watches and warnings,” said Terry Reekers, Emmet County Emergency Management Agency coordinator.

n NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Weather Radio. “We are fortunate to be served in our area by the National Weather Service in Des Moines. The service broadcasts 24 hours a day on a tower located near Ringsted for constant weather information.”

Reekers noted the information includes weather watches and warnings, Amber Alerts for missing children, civil emergency messages and terrorism alerts. “Residents can also listen to police scanners for weather watches and warnings being broadcast to First Responders.”

n Outdoor Warning Sirens. The purpose of the sirens is to alert people who are outside of their homes, cars and away from normal media resources. “This system is not designed to be an indoor warning system. Our sirens in Emmet County only sound for tornado warnings or any situation that requires going to shelter.”

He continued, “So if you hear the sirens going off, you should take cover and listen to a weather information sources like TV, radio NOAA Weather Radio or scanner from your shelter.”

n Indoor Warning System. “We have in Emmet County an Indoor Warning System that is located in what we call key facilities. This includes Avera Holy Family Health, every city hall, every school administrative offices, all of the nursing homes, private businesses and the Emmet County Court House,” he said. There are approximately 30 devices distributed around the county which can only be activated by the Emmet County dispatcher on duty. “This is according to protocol developed and approved by the emergency management coordinator, the Emmet County sheriff and the dispatchers.”

Each device costs about $350 so they are not usually found in private homes. The NOAA Weather Radio has an alarm that goes off for watches and warnings and the alert tones can be heard on police scanners also.”

Another device in place is Emmet County’s Multi-Hazard Plan also developed by the Emergency Management Agency. “These are plans that address the hazards that can affect any jurisdiction in the county such as floods, tornadoes, winter storms, drought, fires, hazardous material release, terrorism and other hazards that may affect our county.”

These plans have to be reviewed annually and each community is encouraged to have their own disaster plan. These plans will mirror the county plan, but will deal with specific hazards in each community.

“We also have emergency response plans for the Estherville Municipal Airport as well as schools and nursing homes,” Reekers explained.