Contact Person: Ronald Watkins
For Immediate Release
(February 18, 2022 Paris, TN) ARE YOU WEATHER READY? Henry County Emergency Management wishes to announce the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service have declared February 20- 26 2022 “Severe Weather Awareness Week”. Henry County will be participating in several events throughout the week and month relating to severe weather preparedness.
According to Ron Watkins, Henry County Emergency Management Director, “The best way for residents to prepare for severe weather is to be weather aware and have a shelter plan. Today’s electronic technology devices can assist in receiving important information so you can easily have advanced warning to take the proper steps to protect yourself and your family.”
Henry County experienced a F3 Tornado on December 10, 2021 which destroyed 18 homes and damaged some 60 other homes in the county. Watkins feels recovery will take some time for several of the displaced families. The Chamber of Commerce Community Assistance Fund has provided many families cash, motel stays, and rent assistance to help them get back to a stable life. Watkins adds, “It was amazing to see our county come together to support families that lost their property in the tornado. We are truly blessed to have such strong community.” Recovery is being aided by a Federal Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance and also for Public Assistance for local government. Additionally the Small Business Administration is offering very low interest loans to any county resident or business that may need loan assistance. It can be due to physical damage or economic damage. It is important for persons needing assistance to register with FEMA by March 15th. The county is presently working on a debris removal plan for the tornado affected areas. We are working with some volunteer organizations to come into our county and assist with tree and brush removal from around their homes. More information will be shared as the plan is finalized.
Director Watkins is encouraging residents to use this year’s Severe Weather Awareness Week as an opportunity to prepare now for the spring storm season. It is important individuals, families, schools, businesses, and communities be ready now before severe weather strikes. Severe weather events impact lives and property in our county every year. The steps you take to plan for severe weather could make a difference for you and your family during the next severe weather event.
On Wednesday, February 23rd, Henry County will once again participate in The National Weather Service State Wide Tornado Drill Day. Watkins has asked local schools to practice facility tornado preparedness plans by conducting a tornado drill in each school. This gives the students and faculty an opportunity to practice the actual motions to go through if a real warning were given for our area. Each school in the county has a NOAA Weather Radio, and access to immediate warning information. The “test warning” will be broadcasted by the National Weather Service at 9:30 AM Wednesday morning as the usual weekly test. We are once again asking our Henry County folks to take a “safety selfie” in their safe locations and post to twitter @HenryCountyEMA and we will post pictures to our facebook page.
Additionally, The Henry County Schools and Paris Special School District emergency radio communication systems will be tested by the county 911 dispatch center by passing along the “mock warning information.”
Local daycare and healthcare facilities, businesses, manufacturing plants, and government agencies are urged to participate by conducting tornado sheltering drills on Wednesday as well. This is an excellent opportunity to practice your severe weather plans at home, at school and at work. Residents should use this week to make sure that they have access to some form of weather warning technology including NOAA All Hazard radios and weather-related Smartphone applications.
This year’s awareness week will include testing outdoor warning sirens in the county. The sirens at Paris City Hall, City of Cottage Grove and Paris Landing State Park and KOA campground will be tested on the morning of February 23rd. The City of Henry’s siren at the Community Center is currently out of service. Residents should be mindful when a siren is activated, either a tornado warning or severe thunderstorm warning with dangerous high winds has been issued for their area. Consider moving indoors to find shelter and seek information on local weather conditions and other important emergency information. “Henry County is vulnerable to different types of weather hazards and it is critical that our residents understand the threats, have multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings and have a plan to quickly get to a safe place when a warning is issued.” stated Watkins.
Additional ways to prepare for severe weather includes purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio. Our area transmitter is located in the Vale community using the frequency 162.450 MHz and can be received on any standard NOAA Weather Radio. The 1000-watt transmitter provides up to the minute weather forecasts and advanced warning of approaching severe weather such as a tornado. Other ways to monitor for severe weather are text alerts and weather related phone apps which can alert you to severe weather in your area. Several Television Stations offer free weather apps that will push warning notifications directly to your phone. Watkins adds, “Advanced warning of severe weather is important to the safety of your family. An advanced warning could provide that extra time desperately needed to react and take cover.”
Watkins suggests families make preparedness plans and practice sheltering in safe areas of your home or work for severe weather. “Get to the lowest level possible and try to put as many walls as you can between yourself and outside. Use helmets, pillows and cushions to cover yourself when sheltering.” Consider creating an emergency supplies kit with extra food, water, flashlights, flashlight batteries, extra cell phone battery chargers and stock kits with blankets, first aid supplies and small tools. These all can be useful in an emergency situation.
Local residents are reminded they have access to tornado safe shelters put into use by our local school systems when school is not in session. The Paris Special School District now has three tornado shelters. Inman School Community Tornado Shelter, Paris Elementary School and Rhea Elementary School all have tornado safe areas. Additionally, the Henry County School System have tornado safe shelters at Lakewood, Harrellson, and Henry Schools. Emergency Management and Law Enforcement officials will coordinate the opening during forecasted high risk weather events and will notify the public via news media and social media when they are opened. Henry County Sheriff, Josh Frey and Paris Police Chief, Rick Watson,will provide School Resource Officers to monitor shelters when opened.
The National Weather Service will feature a specific preparedness topic each day during the week as follows:
Sunday February 20 – Important Role of SKYWARN Spotters
Monday February 21 – Flooding & Flash Floods
Tuesday February 22 – Lightning, the Underrated Killer
Wednesday February 23 – Tornado Safety & Preparedness Drill Day
Thursday February 24 – Severe Thunderstorms
Friday February 25 – NOAA Weather Radio and the Emergency Alert System
Saturday February 26 – Importance of Social Media
To get more information contact the emergency management office at 644-2678 or visit the Henry County Emergency Management website at http://www.henrycountytn.org or visit the our facebook page,facebook.com/hcema.