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As season changes, College prepares to be StormReady

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – As winter melts into spring, Monmouth College Director of Campus Safety Andy Davis is encouraging the campus community and the general public to be “storm ready.” And he’s doing his part by getting the College certified as a member of the National Weather Service’s StormReady program.

StormReady communities are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness. No community is storm proof, but Davis said that being StormReady-certified can help communities save lives.

Davis said the College’s relationship with the National Weather Service includes receiving three-day outlook briefings when dangerous weather is possible.

“We can also do a phone conference with them out of their office in Bettendorf, Iowa, which is their main office for this area,” he said. “That can be about all types of things, such as flood stages, in addition to storms.”

The StormReady program utilizes a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle extreme weather. It encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations by providing emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations.

“One of the biggest components is that we have the capability to notify people quickly in the event of a weather emergency,” said Davis. “If sirens are going off, we put out a ‘seek shelter immediately’ message. Really, if you hear the sirens, don’t even wait for the message – seek shelter immediately.”

Davis said that the best location for shelter is an interior room with no windows on the lowest level of a building.

The “all clear” is when the sirens are no longer sounding.

Tornadoes are the type of storms that people usually think of when needing to take shelter, but Davis said being StormReady also applies to weather events such as straight-line winds, which can blow up to 120 miles per hour, and hail.

“With high winds, it’s important to know to stay away from downed power lines,” said Davis. “Don’t get out of your vehicle near a downed line. If it’s wet out, you don’t want to step in a puddle that the line is touching. You don’t even have to touch the line to get zapped.”

And speaking of puddles, Davis also urges those in the campus and local community to not try to drive through large collections of water after a downpour, such as the area that sometimes forms near the west side of campus on Clinton Ave.

“Don’t dry to drive through a big washout,” he said. “Just turn around and go a different way.”