As part of its commitment to build a Weather-Ready Nation, the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched the Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador  initiative last month. NOAA’s National Weather Service is recognizing the first 100 Ambassadors during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week , March 2 to 8. NOAA urges more businesses and organizations to join the group of Ambassadors in working with NOAA to strengthen national resilience in the face of extreme weather.
Among the new Ambassadors are weather industry partners, including AccuWeather, Raytheon, The Weather Channel and Vaisala, along with businesses, nonprofits, universities, and other organizations. These organizations bring a wide range of expertise, from community preparedness and safety to supercomputing and observations.
One Ambassador with recent weather-ready experience is the Moore Medical Center in Oklahoma. On May 20, 2013, an EF-5 tornado struck the Center. Fortunately, the hospital staff had a well-practiced emergency plan and carefully monitored the National Weather Service forecast that day.
When a tornado warning was issued, staff quickly relocated patients and others to windowless safe areas and used mattresses and blankets to protect them from flying debris. Damage to the hospital was extensive, but no lives were lost. More than 300 individuals who were at the center that day survived, due in large part to the planning and actions of the hospital administration and staff.
Moore Medical Center is being rebuilt and plans to open in 2016. However, rebuilding is not always an option for many small businesses that don't have an emergency plan in place. FEMA estimates that up to 40 percent of businesses hit by disasters never reopen.
The theme of this year’s National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is ‘Be a Force of Nature: Take the Next Step.’ Follow these simple safety messages: know your risk, take action, be an example.
- Know Your Risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Sign up for weather alerts and check the weather forecast regularly.
- Take Action: Make sure you and your family are prepared for severe weather. You may not be together when a storm strikes, so plan how you will contact one another by developing your family communication plan. Put together an emergency kit and store important papers and valuables in a safe place. Visit Ready.gov/severeweather to learn more about how to be better prepared and how you can protect your family when severe weather strikes.
- Be an Example: Once you have taken action, tell
family, friends, and co-workers to do the same. Technology today makes it
easier than ever to share the resources and alert systems you discovered
through your social media network. The following new videos may be helpful for
your friends and families to prepare:
Become a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador today: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/ambassadors.html .
For tips on becoming weather-ready, visit: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/force.html .
For tips on protecting your businesses visit: http://www.fema.gov/protecting-your-businesses .