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Preparedness is the key to facing threats of severe weather situations

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

In light of the recent heavy rains inundating the area causing localized flooding, school delays, and at least one emergency rescue situation, local emergency management officials are reminding citizens of the importance of being prepared before an emergency situation arises.

“We are always looking at ways to better mitigate, respond to, and recover from all types of disasters,” said Jason Blevins, TN-CEMP, Johnson County Emergency Management Director. “Our agencies train and look for ways to improve. We strive to learn from each training and event to better serve the community.”

The most common weather events associated with East Tennessee include water as in flooding, snow, and ice, high winds, or fire. “There are a number of factors to argue for each being the most concerning,” said Blevins. “All of them have the potential to be devastating.”

Jerry Jordan, Johnson County 911 Director agrees they all have the same merit all things considered. “The best way to avoid dangerous situations involving weather-related issues is to use common sense,” said Jordan. “Stay tuned to weather alerts and don’t wait too long to react by driving thru high water or on slick roads.”

Local emergency professionals stress the importance of being weather aware and having a plan in advance of potential weather situations. “Residents need to be aware of the dangers that weather can cause in their area,” explained Blevins, who states it is important to have the supplies on hand to get through a disaster situation. “Power and utilities could be lost for an extended period,” he said, “and it could be a while before help could arrive.” He also suggests having more than one way to get weather alerts and advice “if an alert of severe weather is received for your area, don’t wait until it is too late to do anything about it.”

Severe weather can occur at any time of the year, but the peak seasons are spring and fall. For that reason, in late winter, it is prudent to review the different types of severe weather, the alerts associated with them, and the various safety tips that can keep you and your family safe. This year, the state of Tennessee will recognize February 25-March 3 as Severe Weather Awareness Week.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, or TEMA, is responsible for preparedness, response, mitigation, and recovery from disasters. “TEMA wants Tennesseans and our state’s visitors to understand severe weather hazards, and prepare themselves and their loved one to receive and understand warnings, and get to safety, when severe weather threatens,” TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan said in a release from the Tennessee Department of Military.