Is your county prepared for severe weather? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Is your county prepared for severe weather?

Georgia gets a good grade for having the most StormReady sites in the nation, but only four counties in our viewing area meet the criteria. The counties include Clinch, Douglas, Ware and Mitchell counties.

The StormReady status means those areas have a severe weather action plan. With technology and citizen storm spotters, Mitchell County, for instance, will be ready to face the storm.

People in Camilla know all too well about severe weather. The surprise Valentine's Day Tornado in 2000 took 19 lives. Hopefully with a newly placed severe weather action plan, people will get a heads up. Director of Mitchell County 911 Center, Clark Harrell, says, "We trained about 70 storm spotters in Mitchell County. Compromised of people throughout the entire county of Volunteer Fire Department throughout Mitchell County."

A StormReady County has to be able to receive National Weather Service warnings and watches. Mitchell County has weather radios and a printer that sends a severe weather messages.

The 911 Center also has a color weather radar screen and dispatchers keep an eye on the weather channel day and night. Harrell says, "Once we receive a watch or warning, the dispatcher in the center broadcasts it to our public safety agencies in Mitchell County."

The program is expected to prevent more tragedies by getting the word out before the severe storms move in.

As a part of Mitchell Counties StormReady program, more than 70 weather radios were put in public buildings, including schools. Both Pelham and Camilla also have warning sirens.

The Mitchell 911 Center will soon have more room to track severe weather. County officials plan to use one-point-two million dollars in local sales tax money to build a new 911 and Emergency Center.

The approximately 14,000 square foot building will be constructed next to the Mitchell County Justice Center. The land has already been cleared, but the county is waiting on a bid for a contractor. The center will also have two new substations in Baconton and Pelham.

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