COUNTY PREPARES FOR SEVERE WEATHER, DISTRIBUTES RADIOS

COUNTY PREPARES FOR SEVERE WEATHER, DISTRIBUTES RADIOS

The Doña Ana County/Las Cruces Office of Emergency Management will begin issuing National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radios in an attempt to improve preparedness for severe weather hazards.

The radios will be distributed to government offices, schools and hospitals throughout the county. Funding for the radios was made possible through the Project Impact grant, which focuses on building disaster-resistant communities throughout the nation.

“With the monsoon season upon us, this is an excellent opportunity to provide a great service to the community,” said Project Impact Coordinator Quent Pirtle. “Putting the weather radios into operation will be a building block for Doña Ana County to join the Storm Ready Community Program. Once recognized, credit for the program will be applied to the Community Rating System, which reduces premiums property owners pay on their flood insurance. This is a step in the right direction to protect critical infrastructure we will rely upon during a disaster.”

The radio project coincides with the “Turn Around, Don’t Drown” campaign, sponsored by the National Weather Service.

The focus of the program is to remind people not to drive or walk into flooded areas. According to storm-data records for the 30-year period from 1972 to 2001, the national average annual death toll for floods (127) exceeded average annual deaths from lightning (73), tornadoes (68) or hurricanes (16). Additional information is available at the National Weather Service link http://www.srh.noaa.gov/elp.

New Mexico has recorded at least 188 significant flash-flood events and seven flash-flood fatalities between 1996 and 2002. All regions of the state are prone to flash flooding.

The week of June 23-27, 2003, also is National Lightning Awareness Week. While the national focus is on lightning, New Mexico also encourages residents to be cognizant of the danger of flash flooding. Lightning strikes are the number-two cause of deaths related to storms.

For more information contact Pirtle at (505) 647-7900 or John Fausett, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service at (505) 589-4088.