Emergency Management News

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What are the Five P's of Evacuation?

Hurricane Preparedness Week

It’s Hurricane Preparedness Week! Now is a good time to plan how to protect your family during these powerful storms in advance of the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1. The How to Prepare for a Hurricane guide from America’s PrepareAthon! provides valuable information about planning for evacuation and shelter, and how to avoidflood waters and high winds during a hurricane. Taking a few simple, but important actions now can help you weather the storm and keep you and your family safe.
  • If you are in the path of a major hurricane, authorities may advise you to evacuate from your home. On page 9 of the How to Prepare for a Hurricane guide, you’ll find protective actions related to evacuation, including:
  • If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it at all times;
  • Leave early to avoid delays caused by long lines, high winds, and flooding;
  • Follow official posted evacuation routes and do not try to take short cuts because roads may be blocked; and
  • Remember the Five P’s of Evacuation – People, Prescriptions, Papers, Personal Needs, and Priceless Items. 
If you are in an area without an evacuation notice, take shelter from high winds and flood waters by following these tips: 
  • Stay inside away from windows and glass doors. If you are in a mobile home or temporary structure, move to a sturdy building;
  • For protection against high winds, go to a FEMA Safe Room, an ICC 500 storm shelter, or a small, interior, windowless room such as a bathroom or closet, on the lowest level not likely to flood; and
  • If you are in an area that is flooding, move to a location on higher ground before floodwaters prevent your ability to leave.  
Stay safe during and after a hurricane by avoiding floodwaters on roads, walkways, bridges, and on the ground. Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Do not attempt to cross floodwater! The depth of the water is not always obvious; flood waters can hide damaged and washed out roadways, and only a few inches of moving water can knock an adult off their feet, and a foot of water can sweep away a large vehicle.   
Take your disaster preparedness to the next level! America’s PrepareAthon! has valuable resources to prepare for hurricanesfloodsearthquakes,wildfirestornadoes, and winter storms.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Time to help FEMA

FEMA Seeks Input from Whole Community on National Planning Framework

FEMA is working with its Federal partners to update each of the National Planning Frameworks. The National Planning Frameworks, which are part of the National Preparedness System, set the strategy and doctrine for building, sustaining, and delivering the core capabilities identified in theNational Preparedness Goal.
As called for under Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness (PPD-8), the goal sets a vision for preparedness, and states that “a secure and resilient Nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk,” and identifies the core capabilities necessary to achieve the goal.
FEMA is seeking input from the whole community on all five Frameworks, which cover the mission areas of Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response and Recovery. The draft of each Framework and the comment forms can be found in the FEMA Resource and Document Library.
Please submit all comment forms to PPD8-Engagement@fema.dhs.gov byWednesday, June 3, 2015 at 5:00 PM EDT.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Where will you go when the time comes?

Evacuation Occasion

Fires and floods cause evacuations most frequently in the U.S. and almost every year, people who live along coastlines evacuate when a hurricane approaches. In some circumstances, local officials decide that hazards are serious and may require a mandatory evacuation. When community evacuations occur, local officials provide information mainly through media sources, although, sirens, text message alerts, emails, and automated telephone calls are also used. 
In addition, many disasters allow little to no time for people to gather basic supplies, so planning ahead is essential. Ready.gov offers tips to prepare your family for evacuation, including:
  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Use the Family Emergency Plan to decide these locations before a disaster;
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated;
  • If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages; and
  • If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hurricane Season Begins Soon #Skywarn

National PrepareAthon! Day may be over, but the start of hurricane season is right around the corner.  The Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 through November 30 while the Atlantic hurricane season runs June 1 through November 30.
Now is a good time to become familiar with the hurricane-related notifications issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), including watches and warnings.
  • Hurricane Watch:  An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are possible within a specified area. Watches are issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds. During a watch, tune in to your NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, or television for information and conduct outside preparedness activities. You can use the America’s PrepareAthon!How to Prepare for a Hurricane Guide for help with storm preparations.
  • Hurricane Warning: An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected within a specified area. Warnings are issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm force winds. During a warning, complete storm preparations and immediately leave the threatened area if directed by local officials.
Threats from hurricanes include high winds, heavy rainfall, tornadoes, coastal and inland flooding, and storm surge.  According to NWS, storm surge produced by hurricanes is one of the greatest threats to life and property along the coast. To learn more about storm surge, take a look at this clip from the National Hurricane Center.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Altus Sirens

Recently, an area resident inquired about the sirens here.  

Thank you for this opportunity to address your concerns about sirens in the City of Altus.

You wrote "I could barely hear sirens with the doors open.  If it was at night or doors were closed I would not be able to hear it.  Are there additional sirens that were not sounded?"

While there was insufficient data in the query to fully answer your question, I will address some very obvious concerns in this missive.

First, attached is the siren map for the City.  In my opinion, the sirens in Altus need improvement but there are sufficient numbers to warn the majority of the population centers in the community.  The work I would recommend the City do would be in using more modern technology.  

Second, and more important, PLEASE do not rely on sirens for indoor warning.  Sirens are intended to be OUTDOOR warning only.  The response to a siren should always be to go indoors, turn on your radio to a local radio or television to a local station to learn why the sirens were sounded and get direction for what to do about it.

Third, the data that was missing in your inquiry was "When did the sirens sound?".  On the City Facebook page April 6, this note was posted:  "Due to overcast conditions, there will be NO siren test in the City of Altus today." http://on.fb.me/1aZMZQx  

I don't like to sound the sirens unnecessarily.  IF they go off, there MUST be a purpose for them.  They are sounded according to the City and County Emergency Operations Plan.

Therefore, if you heard a siren in Altus in April, it was not a City of Altus siren sounding.  Perhaps you heard a siren on Altus Air Force Base.  They test their sirens regularly and residents on the east side of Altus can hear them while outside.  Without knowing when the siren was heard, it will be hard to identify the source.

Lastly, it has been my recommendation to residents to have at least THREE ways to get warnings.  I do not recommend sirens as one of the three.  Those three could include All-Hazards weather radios ... http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/ ... the Community Alerting System ... https://alertaltus.bbcportal.com/ ... or your favorite weather, TV, newspaper, or radio station app for your phone.

The weather radios sit quietly on your table and alert when properly programmed for the hazard facing that location.  The City Alerting system ... and others not operated by the City ... send email and text messages with alerts.  Services such as WeatherCall will call your phones for a warning.  EmergencyEmail and the local Skywarn group offer email weather service.  Some of these services are free, ex. the City of Altus, except for your cell phone provider's cost related to text and data while others come with a cost, ex. WeatherCall.

I trust this reply addresses your concerns appropriately.

Again, thank you for this opportunity to be of service.


Lloyd Colston   director
Altus Emergency Management