— Genesee Valley Center has taken a step forward in providing a safe place for the its shoppers and tenants in the event of severe weather by being recognized as a “StormReady” community by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). At an award ceremony and press conference Aug. 18, the NWS weather forecast office in White Lake presented special StormReady signs to mall officials. The StormReady recognition will be in effect for three years when the mall will go through a recertification process.
“The safety of our shoppers and tenants is a top priority. The StormReady program has helped us reach a new level of preparation in case a severe weather event does happen,” said Ed McHale, general manager of the Genesee Valley Center.
“StormReady encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness,” said Richard Pollman, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the NWS weather forecast office in White Lake. “StormReady arms communities with improved communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property — before and during the event.”
The nationwide community preparedness program uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle local severe weather and flooding threats. The program is voluntary and provides communities with clear-cut advice from a partnership between the local NWS weather forecast office and state and local emergency managers. StormReady started in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla. area. There are now more than 1,600 StormReady communities in the United States. The Genesee Valley Center became the third facility in Michigan and the third shopping center in the nation to be granted the StormReady designation.
To be recognized as StormReady, a community must establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center; have more than one way to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the public; create a system that monitors local weather conditions; promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars; and develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
“The United States is the most severe weather prone region of the world. The mission of the National Weather Service is to reduce the loss of life and property from these storms, and StormReady will help us create better prepared communities throughout the country,” Pollman said. “Just like communities, families need to be storm ready by having an action plan for severe weather. Through StormReady, the National Weather Service plans to educate every American about what to do when severe weather strikes because it is ultimately each individual’s responsibility to protect him or herself.”
NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. — Natalie