The National Weather Service has determined that Blount County is ready for whatever storms come this way.
Tom Troutman, warning coordinator meteorologist with the National Weather Service, presented an official “Storm Ready” designation to Blount County Friday afternoon during a press conference at the Blount County Courthouse. County Mayor Jerry Cunningham, Blount County Emergency Management Director Bart Stinnett and Tom Cloud, area coordinator with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, were on hand for the presentation.
“We’re here to designate Blount County as a ‘Storm Ready’ county. It’s the 18th county in the area to receive this designation,” Troutman said.
Cunningham said it was a proud day for Blount County. “It enhances the lifestyle of our citizens to have this designation,” he said.
The mayor said the designation means the county has taken steps to be better able to receive warnings from the NWS and to then pass that information onto residents in a more effective manner, regardless of the type of storm. “If those kinds of things occur, we’re ready,” Cunningham said.
Troutman said 1,600 locations around the United States have earned the “Storm Ready” status. “Blount County has been very proactive. We worked closely with Bart Stinnett and other officials to make sure can get our warnings out quickly through various ways,” he said.
Troutman said a “Storm Ready” county must develop four ways to receive NWS warnings, four ways to then dispense that information to residents and four ways to monitor situations surrounding a storm. The “Storm Ready” counties also create a preparedness program, have an adequately trained/staffed Emergency Operations Center, train “storm spotters” to watch for inclement weather and then pass that information back to the NWS in Morristown.
Stinnett said he and Kathy Shields with Blount County Emergency Management worked on the plan for six months. “That was quick because we had everything in place,” he said.
In the event a natural disaster or storm occurs and the president or governor declares the region a disaster area, the designation moves Blount County up in how it will be considered for aid and assistance, Stinnett said.
Cunningham praised Shields for her work in finding grant money to pay for equipment needed to help the county be better prepared, and he thanked Stinnett for his work as emergency management director.
“I can’t say enough about the work Bart Stinnett has done,” Cunningham said.