The Vinton County Emergency Management Agency (VCEMA) has received a prestigious four-year award for being a “Storm Ready Community” from the National Weather Service (NWS). Tony Edwards, acting Meteorologist In Charge from NWS Office in Charleston, West Virginia was on hand to present the award. He attended the Vinton County Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 21.

In an interview with The Telegram, VCEMA Director Bill Faught stated that the award is the result of a teamwork approach. He wanted to extend his thanks to the Vinton County Sheriff’s Office, 911 center, the county’s fire departments, the McArthur and Hamden police departments and all other first responders.

Faught noted: “I’m a one-man operation, so cooperation from the key emergency and security departments is very valuable to me. They are truly my extra eyes and ears and help me with alerts and information.” He added that hard work and commitment are crucial, and people must know what to do in a bad-weather situation.

 “We have done the legwork," said Faught. “We have educated citizens and people working with the schools, the Fair Board, the Wild Turkey Festival Committee, and other organizations, about what to do if bad weather occurs,” said Faught. “We have tested our equipment. We have also placed weather stations in all the schools.”

Faught acknowledged that severe weather cannot be stopped, but that people can plan for it. People should have plenty of bottled water and should keep track of their medication, blankets and other survival gear.

A community must enact the following to be eligible for the Storm Ready Community designation: Have a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center (the Sheriff’s Office 911 center in Vinton County); have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts to alert the public; create a system that monitors weather conditions locally; 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.

“These steps show the federal government that the local government is doing its part," said Faught.

 Communities wanting to apply to be a Storm Ready Community can contact their regional NWS Office and speak to the Warning Coordination Meteorologist. He or she will assist with the easy application process.