Jackson County is now StormReady

RIPLEY — Jackson County is now one of the 14 counties in the state that is designated as a StormReady County by the National Weather Service.

“The StormReady program helps arm America’s communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property before, during and after the event,” the National Weather Service website said.

According to Walter Smittle, emergency management director for Jackson County, the county completed all the requirements in December and was formally presented the certification earlier this month.

“It’s been a work in progress for over two years,” he said. “We’ve always been progressive in trying to maintain our community awareness. The programs we implemented happened to comply with the criteria.”

After getting funding, Smittle said, the county was able to equip the schools and health care centers with weather alert monitors.

The National Weather Service taught spotting classes which involves a two-hour class that focuses on what to look for with certain weather patterns and different classifications on tornadoes or hurricanes.

Jackson County has about 50 spotters who assist in reporting weather activities to the National Weather Service. Along with community members, law enforcement and first responders took the class to receive credit toward their certification requirement.

“Having them trained to recognize certain weather phenomena gives them an edge to make preparation and be prepared for response,” Smittle said.

Through the county commission, Jackson County was able to implement a community alert system.

A free app call Heads Up Community is available for download. For those with landlines, another warn system is available. Those alerts involve weather notices and road closures.

“We (will) work in the future to provide more information as we go down the road,” Smittle said.