The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

March 30, 2014

Keep your eyes up

Preparedness is key as severe weather season nears

ENID, Okla. — We’re coming up on severe weather season in Oklahoma.

That means we will be turning our eyes to the sky often when bad weather threatens.

The professionals, including the National Weather Service, also will be keeping an eye on things. A recent report about last year’s tornadoes and flooding that killed nearly 50 people in central Oklahoma, said NWS needs to develop a plan for handling multiple severe weather elements.

According to the report, many people were unaware of the risk of flooding on May 31, 2013, which ultimately killed 13 people. Much of the focus that day was on a large tornado near El Reno that killed eight.

NWS has been aggressive with using social media  — Facebook and Twitter — in getting information out to the public, and we can expect that to continue this year.

We have a lot of resources at our disposal in Oklahoma when it comes to getting out information about severe weather. Television stations go to great lengths to let us know what’s going on. Weather radios are available, as well, and, locally, Mike Honigsberg, certified director of Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management, has built up a network of resources, including a large spotter network and equipment that allows him to keep an eye on things.

Honigsberg encourages everyone to have a weather radio. They broadcast NWS warnings, and with battery backups, they won’t go out if the electricity is cut off. They will blare a loud tone when a warning is issued, a sound loud enough to wake you up from your sleep if need be.

You also can sign up on the News & Eagle’s website — enidnews.com — for text alerts that will be sent to your smartphone.

Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management’s website, www.gcem.org, offers information that can help you out, as does the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org).

Ultimately, though, we all need to make sure ourselves and our families are prepared. We need to plan now, so we know what to do if something bad happens. And, we need to heed the warnings that are issued.

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