Chiefs urge severe weather preparedness
When the severe weather sirens go off — twice — on April 24, there may well not even be a cloud in the sky. But Farmington’s and Rosemount’s police chiefs still want residents to think about taking cover.
April 21-25 is Severe Weather Awareness Week. Each day has a different theme, but the consistent message from the chiefs to the residents is simple: be prepared.
“The main message is that we have Severe Weather Week for a reason,” said Rosemount police chief Eric Werner. “We need the community’s help, and for residents to have their own individual plans, so that if something were to happen, people are prepared.”
While all of the days have important messages, Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist encourages area residents to educate themselves about weather alerts and warnings. In particular, he urges residents to either get a weather radio or find a severe weather warning app for their cell phones and smartphones.
Severe weather can occur with little to no warning. Some Farmington residents learned that the hard way in 2010, when a small, undetected tornado damaged several neighborhoods early one August morning.
“Sometimes there is no warning. Those things will happen, so have a plan in place,” Lindquist said.
But often, the National Weather Service is able to detect severe weather, and the sirens are sounded to notify residents the weather is coming.
Werner also suggests that residents sign up for a free emergency alert offered on the Dakota Communications Center’s website, called Everbridge. It’s a subscription service that allows residents to identify the community or communities they are interested in, then register to have notices electronically sent when severe weather is detected in those areas. Users can sign up for notices on their cell phones, smart phones or email accounts, or receive recorded messages on their home telephones.
“It allows residents to get those instant alerts. That same notification system is used for any type of emergency, so if there was a need to evacuate a neighborhood or an area for some other type of hazard, we would use that for mass notification,” Werner said.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has tips on how to develop severe weather safety pans and put together emergency safety kits on its website, www.dps.mn.gov.
The link to sign up for Everbridge’s service is available on the DCC’s site, www.mn-dcc.org. It is listed under the Community Notification/Register link.