The EMA in Alabama hosts a weather preparedness conference for local leaders

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (WSFA) – The Alabama Emergency Management Agency held its 5th Annual Preparedness for Alabama Resilience Summit in Montgomery on Wednesday.

City/county EMA officials, first responders, the National Weather Service and other disaster response professionals gathered at the Cramton Bowl multiplex to network and discuss planning, response and recovery efforts.

“We’re doing this statewide and bringing together stakeholders in each region of the state to talk about planning and preparing for resilience to deal with disasters that develop over time,” said Dr. Laura Myers, Professor of Emergency Management at the University of Alabama.

dr Myers said Alabama experiences more catastrophic events than any other state in the country and this summit helps bring leaders together to share best practices for dealing with severe weather.

In Montgomery County, EMA director Christina Thornton said the focus was on a better message.

“We’ve heard people complaining because they don’t hear sirens,” Thornton said. “It was a polygon system. I took that away and now there will be a nationwide notification. That was one of the things we learned from these recent events.”

At the statewide level, officials said more needs to be done to support victims in long-term recovery efforts.

“Because if this happened in your community, people would come to help, but eventually they would leave, and what I hear most from communities is that they still need help,” said Dr. myers “We need more volunteers. We need more units that can stay in the long run to help.”

There’s also a push to better prepare the Alabamaans.

“I would like to see a way for us to get there after an incident that all citizens are able to support themselves for a few days until state and federal assistance can actually get there and have an impact,” said Jeff Smitherman , Director of Alabama EMA.

Another effort being made is the installation of more storm shelters across the state. Smitherman said they are working aggressively to make that happen.

“We have several applications pending,” Smitherman said.

We’re only a month into 2023 and it’s already been a very active severe weather season in Alabama.

“We have already exceeded the average number of tornadoes in January. In fact, we’ve set a record and the months aren’t even over yet,” said John De Block, weather forecaster for the Birmingham NWS Alert Coordination.

For this reason, those responsible for preparing Alabamaans for disasters are working together to find best practices.

Alabama EMA hosts this conference annually in Montgomery, Huntsville, Mobile and Birmingham. EMA will continue these summits to ensure everyone is included in the talks.

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