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College earns StormReady status from NWS

Duane Bonifer
01/17/2017
From left: Monmouth College Senior Security Officer Mark Grover; Donna Dubbereke, National Weather Service warning coordination meteorologist; Zach Uttech, National Weather Service meteorologist; Monmouth Director of Safety and Security Andy Davis; and Monmouth City Fire Chief Casey Rexroat, who is also Warren County’s emergency manager.
Monmouth College has received an important certification that lets the College community know the campus is prepared to respond to severe weather. On Tuesday, the College received StormReady recognition from the National Weather Service.

“StormReady is a program that’s an industry standard for severe-weather preparedness and safety,” said Donna Dubbereke, a warning coordination meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Quad Cities office. “It looks at how you communicate during severe weather, how you receive warnings, how you share those warnings and what actions you take.”

Dubbereke said “it is very important for colleges in particular to be certified StormReady.”

“There are a lot of people at a college who depend on being notified, and they may not be aware of what’s happening around them all of the time,” she said. “So taking those steps and being intentional about keeping them informed is a very important part of the StormReady process.”

Monmouth Director of Safety and Security Andy Davis said he’s excited the College earned StormReady status because of what it means to campus.

“We want to make sure that our students, faculty and staff are safe on campus, and that’s what drove our decision to work toward StormReady status,” Davis said. “We constantly look for things that will enhance and improve our emergency-notification system. This is just one step in doing that.”

To be recognized as StormReady, an organization or community submits a severe-weather plan and completes an application, which is followed by a site inspection. A board of emergency managers and NWS personnel reviews the application.

“We look for redundancy – multiple ways to receive warnings, multiple ways to communicate information,” Dubbereke said. “We look for written plans that are effective and practical and actually being used.”

Davis said Monmouth utilizes several communication tools to keep the College community informed about pending severe weather, including: electronic mail, text messaging, voice-to-text phone calls, a smart phone app and an outdoor PA system.

“Working with the Warren County emergency management manager, we have the city notification systems in place as well,” Davis said.

Davis also works closely with local emergency management officials, especially Monmouth City Fire Chief Casey Rexroat, who is also Warren County’s emergency manager.

“He and I communicate frequently about any potential severe weather that could be coming our way, and we push our notifications if we need to,” Davis said.

As Dubbereke noted, being StormReady does not mean that a place is “storm-proof.”

“We do live in the Midwest, and severe weather happens,” she said. “So being ready is a part of that.”