BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Directors and representatives from Emergency Management Agencies all over central Alabama paid a visit to CBS 42 on Thursday afternoon ahead of severe weather season.
“You know, I kind of joke that severe weather season in Alabama ends on December 31st at 11:59 and starts January 1st at midnight,” said Avery Gibbs, Deputy Director for Blount County EMA.
While at the station, EMA directors were introduced to CBS 42’s new Weather Alert Unit, and invited inside for a presentation, lunch, and discussion about the relationship between the media and EMA representatives.
“Anytime we get together as Emergency Management directors and also with members of the press, it is so critical to have those relationships,” said Hub Harvey of the Shelby County EMA. “EMA doesn’t usually bring a lot of equipment to a fight, but what we bring are relationships.”
EMA and WIAT: Together at last
We asked the EMA directors what they were doing to prepare ahead of the severe weather season. Most said they had been keeping an eye on the National Weather Service and getting their plans in place.
“We make equipment checks–everything’s done on a regular basis,” said Greg Militano of Calhoun County’s EMA. “We check radar systems and make sure we constantly stay on the siren system and it’s operational.”
Social media has also become a significant part of the directors’ planning. Militano explained that Calhoun County is very active on Twitter and Facebook during a weather event. They also recommend that citizens download apps–like CBS 42’s Stormtrack Weather App or subscribe to Nixle for immediate updates to their phones.
Directors said it’s important for citizens to know where they’re getting their information from–in the event of a disaster. With social media, people can empower themselves to keep up with updates from CBS 42 and from these local agencies.
“I just think everyone needs to have a preparedness mindset,” said Gibbs. “We didn’t really have a cool winter–which could set us up for a possibly active weather season. Be prepared.”