Douglas County severe weather symposium stresses preparedness
National Severe Weather Preparedness Week ended Saturday but Douglas County Emergency Management wants the community to continue to be prepared in case of severe weather.
Jillian Rodrigue, assistant director of Douglas County Emergency Management, said a big theme this year is to be proactive and make sure communities nationwide are ready in the event of a weather emergency.
“March is sort of the transition into spring and the week is an opportunity for all forces to take a whole week to remind (the community) that now is the time to be ready,” Rodrigue said.
Preparedness week events in Douglas County included a statewide tornado siren testing Tuesday and ended Saturday at the Kansas Union with the 13th annual Severe Weather Symposium, hosted by Douglas County Emergency Management.
The symposium included storm-expert speakers, a panel discussion and vendors promoting tools and awareness. The audience of more than 140 people from Kansas and Missouri was a mix of first responders, spotters, amateur radio operators, Douglas County Emergency Management volunteers, storm chasers and people who just wanted to learn more about severe weather.
Rodrigue said that when the symposium first started, it was meant to be an advanced training course, but as it continued to get larger it became a way to train and educate beyond a basic class so spotters have the information they need to continue to provide the community with “ground truth.” A spotter is a person who watches what’s going on with the weather and calls it in to Douglas County Emergency Management or the National Weather Service. Attending the symposium was a way for spotters to learn and to better understand weather.
“We try to educate those residents so we can get the most accurate report,” Rodrigue said.
The more accurate the report, the better prepared people can be when the severe weather hits their area.
Rodrigue urged people in the area to have a plan ready now, make an emergency kit and stay informed of the weather rather than waiting until after a warning or watch has been issued.
“Severe weather happens and we need to be prepared for when it happens, not if it happens,” Rodrigue said.
For more tips and information on how to prepare for severe weather, visit www.ready.gov.