Kankakee County and Evergreen Park StormReady

 

Kankakee County became only the ninth StormReady County in Illinois at a ceremony during the County Board meeting September 11. The county’s severe weather preparedness program is managed by Sgt. Craig Long of the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Police. Sgt. Long serves under Sheriff Timothy Bukowski and Undersheriff Brad O’Keefe.

 

Evergreen Park became the thirty seventh StormReady community in Illinois at a ceremony during the village board meeting on September 17. Evergreen Park’s severe weather program is headed up by Fire Chief Ron Kleinhaus, Division Chief Tom Mullally, and Emergency Manager Mary Clohessy.

 

There were 1248 StormReady sites nationwide as of September 17. StormReady is a program of the National Weather Service (NWS) that recognizes counties and communities that have taken steps to make sure their citizens are prepared for severe storms and tornadoes. The NWS Chicago Forecast Office works closely with Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and Illinois Emergency Services and Management Association (IESMA) in the local StormReady program. Some of the requirements for StormReady include having;

  • A 24 hour warning point (police, fire or 911 center) and Emergency Operating Center that is manned during severe weather
  • Redundant methods of receiving severe weather watches and warnings from the NWS
  • Redundant methods of disseminating severe weather watch and warning information to community officials and citizens including having NOAA Weather Radios at all schools and public buildings
  • Redundant methods of monitoring local weather conditions
  • A team of trained Skywarn storm spotters and established communications with the NWS
  • Public education programs on severe storm preparedness and safety

 

One of the innovative programs Kankakee County has adopted sends severe weather alerts to citizens via text messages to cell phones, pagers or email. The county also distributed 400 NOAA Weather Radios through a grant from IEMA. The annual Skywarn storm spotter training classes attract around 100 volunteer spotters.

 

Evergreen Park was in the direct path of the infamous "Oak Lawn Tornado" of April 21, 1967. The community has taken a number of steps to make sure they are better prepared if another tornado ever strikes. In addition to the NOAA Weather Radios, the community operates its own alert radio system that can broadcast emergency messages to schools, day care centers, the community center, a nursing home, and even the concession stands at the baseball fields. The radios can be activated from the fire department, the EOC, or from a mobile communications van.

 

Congratulations to Kankakee County and Evergreen Park! For more information on the StormReady program visit www.stormready.noaa.gov

 

From left to right; Kankakee County Sheriff Timothy Bukowski, Undersheriff Brad O’Keefe, Sgt. Craig Long, NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jim Allsopp

 

From left to right; Cook County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Dan Coughlin, IESMA Regional Vice President Tom Janetske, Evergreen Park Fire Chief Ron Kleinhaus, Evergreen Park Emergency Manager Mary Clohessy, NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jim Allsopp



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