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Forsyth County gives inclement weather tips to students, locals

By Chasmon Gatewood
On March 26, 2014

  • Sadler. Forsyth County

Inclement weather and winter storms have been plentiful this season, but the Forsyth County Emergency Management Advisory

Council has plans to keep residents - including the Winston-Salem State community prepared for natural disasters.

Melton Sadler, director of the Office of Emergency Management, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires a hazard mitigation plan to be current before any disaster response funding can be distributed to a jurisdiction.

Hazard mitigation planning is a process for state and local governments to identify policies, activities, and tools to implement mitigation actions. Mitigation is action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to life and property from a hazard event.

This process has four steps: organizing resources; assessing risks; developing a mitigation plan; and implementing the plan and monitoring progress

"If the mitigation plan doesn't receive federal or state grants, the jurisdictions have to absorb the cost of natural disasters," Sadler added.

The Community Emergency Response Team is the national program that helps train people to be better prepared to respond to emergency situations in their communities.

According to USA.com, thunderstorm winds, floods and hail are the top extreme weather events within 50 miles of Winston-Salem.

"We regularly meet with all local schools from daycares to universities," said Leigha Cordell, emergency management coordinator.

"We actually participated in a full-scale drill for WSSU in the early fall that addressed an active shooter scenario."

The council holds public meetings that include city and county officials on the second Wednesday of every other month.

Sadler said there is not much interest at the college student level in hazard mitigation.

Students can contribute to the planning process, but community stakeholders and property owners are more likely to make contributions.

Darrell Jeter, WSSU's director of emergency management, said the University is not required to have a mitigation plan, but there are efforts to reduce the campus' vulnerability to certain hazards

"On campus we use a number of avenues to push the preparedness message out," Jeter said.

Campus safety bulletins are sent via email and a "Campus Safety Day" to highlight safety resources is scheduled for every September.

Jeter said emergency public information is the first tier and most important aid any student, faculty, staff or visitor should want to receive. Therefore, he said, it is important that students, faculty and staff register for RamALERT, the University's text and or voice message service.

Ayesha Hawkins said RamALERT helps her by sending messages alerting her when to stay home, helping her to save gas. Hawkins is senior social work major from Henderson, N.C.

Cordell said everyone should be prepared to take care of themselves for the first 72 hours during a natural disaster. "Everybody, college students, all should have disaster preparedness kit that include things like hand sanitizer, Clorox, and non-perishable items."


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