Nationally, the period between late March and early September, is known as severe weather season. It is during this period when the region is more likely to be affected by tornadoes and hurricanes. In the wake of last year’s deadly tornadoes, which roared through the Fayetteville-Fort Bragg area on April 16,
Fort Bragg officials explain that being prepared for severe weather will reduce tension and anxiety levels and mitigate the effects of a disaster.
“Severe weather events are occurring daily across the nation — tornadoes in Oklahoma; hail in the Midwest, our own tornado that occurred last April and the growing unpredictable weather patterns,” said McKenzie Calvin, emergency management planner, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization, and Security.
“The most important factors for readiness is to prepare for the upcoming severe weather season. This can be accomplished through attending education events such as StormFest, which will occur at the ASOM on May 19.
“People who have not considered how they will respond to weather threats may be in danger,” he added. “When watches are not heeded, even more risks occur when our local first responders must attempt rescues. Remember that responding
appropriately to a severe weather situation is half the battle, the other half is being prepared.”
According to the plan, the community awareness campaign is a preparedness program designed to educate the community (military personnel, Department of Defense civilians, contractors and Family members.) The plan provides guidelines on how to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies to reduce vulnerability to specific hazards on the installation. Including actions taken before, during, and after a disaster, the program identifies individual responsibilities and is divided into four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
For more information about the emergency management plan, community members are urged to log on to the Ready-Bragg website at www.bragg.army.mil/Directorates/Ready-Bragg.aspx.
The post’s mass notification system is tested monthly, while Hurricane Awareness Week and the annual Storm Festival are observed during May. The community Information Fair is conducted in September, as is National Preparedness Month, which coincides with the 9/11 remembrance.
Tornado/severe weather awareness kicks off every March; Antiterrorism Month is conducted in August and Winter Weather Awareness is observed in November. After last year’s tornadoes in April, some changes have taken place to make the community more aware of the threat of severe weather.
“Fort Bragg units, agencies, and Family members should take advantage of the opportunities to learn, and if applicable, participate in activities to increase knowledge on disaster preparedness and hone skills,” McKenzie said.
He said the general preparedness plan should include an emergency kit, to sustain the Family for up to 72 hours; make a plan to identify what will happen during severe weather events, such as contact information and who should be contacted. He said Families should also maintain situational awareness by listening to the radio or TV and, once the weather event is over, they should ensure that their own household is secure and check on neighbors.
While severe weather season began in late March, according to McKenzie, the most dangerous time for Fort Bragg is the period between July and late September.
“During this time, we are in the hurricane season as well as that for severe storms and tornadoes,” he explained. “Hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends November 30. However, the greatest risk for hurricanes is during the month of August.”
McKenzie said there are several systems in place to keep the community informed if a severe weather event occurs.
The Giant Voice, exterior mass notification systems, including 29 poles and high-powered speakers, are located throughout the installation. There are also interior building mass notification systems in many new and renovated buildings, said McKenzie. Fort Bragg also has an emergency AM radio station and AM alert flashers which, when flashing, direct personnel to tune in to AM 1700. This is only good for personnel outside, if you are inside a building, you will not receive the signal. He said for operational units and messaging, Fort Bragg uses a telephone alert system, which is activated for emergencies and alerts all Fort Bragg tenant
Other sources of information include the Fort Bragg Facebook page, the Fort Bragg webpage and Bragg TV. Lugo said it is important to note that the basic responsibility for emergency planning and response lies with individuals and heads of households.
“When the situation exceeds the capabilities of individuals, Families, and volunteer organizations, an installation emergency may exist,” McKenzie said. “It is then the responsibility of Fort Bragg to undertake the effects of disasters.
“Fort Bragg has the primary responsibility for emergency management activities. When an emergency incident or event exceeds the installations assets, capabilities and mutual aid agency support, the incident commander will notify the EOC (emergency operations center) and ask them to reach out and request additional state or federal government assets. In addition, private sector and voluntary organizations may be requested to provide aid and assistance.”
McKenzie said it’s important for Fort Bragg residents take advantage of all community activities that provide information on disaster preparedness.