All 39 cities and towns in the state are now recognized as “storm ready” by the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA). Rhode Island becomes the first state in the country to have all municipalities reach this recognition.
The steps taken to become an official NWS storm ready city include:
l Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center
l Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the public
l Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally
l Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars
l Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises
Cranston Fire Chief William McKenna, who represented the city during the recognition ceremony at the State House last Friday, said that those steps represent the relationship that each fire department has with RIEMA as wells as the National Weather Service.
“It deals with how we’re being notified, who we’d notify, and how we’d operate here,” he said. “Most steps we take are making sure we have guidelines in place and knowing who to alert.”
McKenna said that Cranston was one of the first communities in the state, back in 2016, to start using a set of monitoring devices given by the NWS that alert the department to any impending danger. These are now set up in the fire alarm division, the department’s office, and the EMS center, he said.
“Preparedness is a full-time job,” Governor Gina Raimondo said in a release. “Thank you to every community in Rhode Island for taking the time to plan ahead and keep Rhode Islanders safe.”
According to the release, RIEMA bought weather radios and lightning detectors for all 39 cities and towns to use. The state also gave a $2,500 grant to each community from the Emergency funds to have for storm preparedness and response.
Said NWS Meteorologist-in-Charge Robert Thompson, “Although StormReady designation doesn’t keep the storms away, it does signify a community’s commitment to be prepared when a storm does threaten and proactively respond for the sake of public safety.”