Extension hosts Severe Weather Preparedness Class

Published 8:00 am Friday, February 16, 2024

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By Tana Shealey 

ACES Lowndes County Coordinator

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) held its first 2024 severe weather preparedness workshop at Snow Hill Christian Church on Feb. 8 from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. 

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The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M University and Auburn University) is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Everyone is welcome. Anyone planning to attend this program is encouraged to let us know if you have accessibility needs.

ACES Coordinator Tana Shealey said her office started the program, “Be Ready, Lowndes County,” in November of 2023.

“Our goal is to reach residents in as many communities as possible, providing them with the knowledge and supplies they will need to keep safe during a severe storm,” Shealey said. “My mother always told me that ‘But for the Grace of God, there go I,’ so our goal is to help our stakeholders prepare now because none of us can predict what storms may come.”

During each meeting, representatives of the American Red Cross, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA), the South-Central Alabama Development Commission, and a team member of the Governor’s Office of Volunteer Services present information and materials that residents can use.

Jaleesa Diggens with AEMA said her agency is donating preparedness tools including communication plan templates, emergency passports, and small emergency kits.

“Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA) is important to the Lowndes County program because our agency promotes preparedness in homes and communities,” Diggins said. “When one person is prepared, it helps them and the community. When disaster strikes, it is not always the first responders who are the first to help; neighbors often help neighbors. Being prepared helps you help others.”

Melinda Stallworth, Coordinator of the Governor’s Office of Volunteer Services said her team offered door prizes to participants for a family disaster kit.

“The Governor’s Office of Volunteer Services mission is to increase an ethic of service and volunteerism in Alabama, strengthen the capacity of Alabama’s faith and community-based organizations, and promote collaboration among individuals and organizations striving to meet some of the greatest needs in our state,” Stallworth said. “This includes administering the AmeriCorps State program, encouraging involvement in national service, promoting volunteerism, and serving as a training and education resource to support these efforts, including disaster preparedness and response. It is important to share these resources and increase awareness for all Alabamians.”

Shealey said that with recent budget cuts, her office is reaching out to sponsors for help purchasing the supplies that class participants received. Joe Bell, owner of the Ace Hardware Store in Hayneville is answering the call. 

“We are just happy to do it,” Bell said. 

Bell donated 30 weather radios to the residents who registered to attend the meeting at Snow Hill Christian Church. Mr. Bell has also offered discounts to ACES on shipping and supplies for the classes.

The donated NOOA Weather Radios can operate on batteries and will benefit residents living in rural areas without internet connectivity.

“ACE Hardware is happy to help any program supporting our community,” Bell added.

Last fall, the Town of Hayneville and the Town of Whitehall donated radios during two different ‘Be Ready, Lowndes County’ workshops. The Town of Fort Deposit is ordering radios for a class set for March at the Fort Deposit Senior Center.

“Those NOAA weather radios are programmed during the workshop by our State EMA representative and Mr. Ransom Granick who works with the county. That is important because residents can ask questions about the radios and learn how they work during the meeting before they take them home,” Shealey said.

The next severe weather preparedness meetings will be held in March. For more information, call the Lowndes County Extension office 334-548-2315.