Recent tornados in Alabama, Missouri and Massachusetts have many wondering how prepared their community is should a weather disaster strike.
Avon residents can take comfort knowing disaster plans are in place, but city officials also caution residents need to be prepared as well.
“We work with several county agencies in preparation for a disaster,” said Chief, Frank Root. “Everything is tied to the county. We’ve taken things a step further and use the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System which has all of our resources listed in an orderly fashion."
The county also recently formed the IMAT (Incident Management Assistance Team), Root said. IMAT brings together people from several different disciplines such as the health department, area hospitals and emergency management. Depending on the severity of the problem, the box alarm system is set up with predetermined levels to alert those responders as to how much and what help is needed.
The fire department coordinates several CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training sessions throughout the year which train volunteers in disaster preparedness.
Should portions of Avon suffer a tornado, Avon fire and police departments would be the first to respond to assess the situation. Mutual aid from surrounding departments may be called to the scene. The Lorain County Office of Emergency Management (EMA) & Homeland Security would become involved if the first responders determine more aid is needed.
Tornado warning sirens are placed strategically throughout town and go off when a tornado warning is issued. The sirens are located at the fire station on Detroit Road, Schwartz Road Park, Veterans Memorial Park, Bob-O-Link Golf Course and All Pro Freight Stadium. The alarms are activated when a tornado warning is issued and sound off for three minutes or longer depending on need.
Avon also is one of the few cities in the area to implement the CodeRED high-speed telephone emergency notification system. The CodeRED system gives city officials the ability to deliver pre-recorded emergency telephone notification / information messages such as, boil-water notices, missing children and adults, evacuation notices, utility outages, fires, or any other emergency incident where rapid notification is essential.
Residents without a landline phone can register their cell phones on the Police Department’s website.
But officials warn it is important for residents to heed the warning information and seek shelter when needed. Having a plan is place is key and using common sense is key, according to officials.
“Avon has gotten very progressive with its warning systems and the city works well with everyone,” said Director of EMA & Homeland Security, Tom Kelley. “We also encourage people to purchase a home weather radio which they can pick up at any local electronics store. The radio remains silent, but when there is a tornado warning, it goes off like a pager. The information comes directly from the Weather Service. You also can get the weather forecast on the radio.”
The Lorain County Chapter of the Red Cross works closely with Lorain County EMA & Homeland Security after a disaster. Volunteers begin working with the affected families and set up shelters if needed.
“The flooding a few months ago did not warrant federal aid, but we were able to provide some residents with a place to stay and clothing,” said Chairman of Disaster Services, Art Mead.
Lorain County Red Cross has a team of 38 volunteers. The orgranization works with almost 40 agencies to help affected people with everything from food to medical supplies. Disaster drills are also conducted.
Mead recommends residents have a disaster kit stored in a safe place such as the basement if a tornado warning is issued. The kit should include:
- Enough non-perishable food for three days (for each family member).
- Three gallons of potable water, per person, per day.
- A change of clothing for each person.
- A portable radio that works with batteries.
- Any medications needed.
- A first-aid kit.
Families also need to establish a common meeting place, especially in the event of a fire. Important phone numbers and a contact person outside the area also are important to keep with you.