County, schools ready for Mother Nature

Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Meteorologist Brittney Whitehead from the Nashville office of the National Weather Service presented Student Support Supervisor Tres Beasley (left) and Director of Schools Jacob Sorrells (right) with the StormReady certification for Marshall County Schools, only one of three school systems so recognized in Middle Tennessee. The program recognizes communities and groups who have planned and prepared for severe weather emergencies.
Tribune Photo by Scott Pearson

Marshall County government and the school system have become safer recently.

The National Weather Service certified both the county and schools as StormReady this month.

“It’s a point of pride for the county and the school system,” said Kevin Calahan, Marshall County Office of Emergency Management Operations chief.

StormReady is a NWS program aimed at preparing for hazardous weather events through planning, preparedness, and communication.

The goal is to make communities safer, before, during, and after natural disasters such as severe storms, flooding, tornadoes, or hurricanes.

Calahan and Tres Beasley, Supervisor of Student Services, started working in earnest last year to qualify under the program.

Over that period, Marshall County made “huge strides,” Brittney Whitehead said, a meteorologist in the Nashville office and a NWS representative.

“It’s our job to make sure we’ve done everything to prepare and plan for serious weather events,” Beasley said.

Buy in from the schools was simple, Beasley said. When told the program could potentially make Marshall County students safer, Director of Schools Jacob Sorrells gave an immediate green light to participation.

While most counties in Middle Tennessee have already been certified by the program, Marshall County is one of only three school systems in the region to have earned the designation.

“I love working with schools,” Whitehead said. “We know they have the knowledge and preparedness to be safer.”

One missing piece of the preparation was weather radios for every county government and school system building.

This year’s Leadership Marshall class chose, as their class service project, to supply the roughly 20 needed weather radios.

Leadership Marshall is an annual program sponsored by the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce aimed at educating each class on a broad range of issues in Marshall County, while developing additional leaders for the county and its various municipalities.

Whitehead presented the award at the quarterly Local Emergency Planning Committee meeting, a countywide meeting of emergency response, county and town government, and utility representatives, who are responsible for disaster planning and response in the county.

The presentation of the certification was also timely.

Severe Weather and Flood Preparedness Week in Tennessee takes place Feb. 26-Mar. 4 and local emergency officials will be testing warning systems as well as their preparations during this period.