ECU Named 'StormReady'
By Christine Neff
While no university can be storm proof, East Carolina University has earned the distinction of being storm ready.
NOAA’s National Weather Service recognized ECU as a StormReady university after a yearlong process that evaluated and strengthened the university’s ability to protect life and property during severe weather incidents.
Representatives of the National Weather Service visited campus May 28 during National Hurricane Awareness Week to present ECU officials with a certificate and two signs bearing the StormReady logo.
“It has been wonderful working with ECU,” said John Cole, warning coordination meteorologist at the NWS’s Newport office. “We have found out some wonderful things about ECU and how prepared they are to deal with hazardous weather. I am so impressed by the plans they have in place.”
The StormReady program helps communities, universities and businesses implement procedures meant to reduce the effects of dangerous weather. ECU is among just 29 universities in the country to have earned the designation.
Only one other university in North Carolina, the University of North Carolina - Wilmington, has completed the program.
To be recognized as StormReady, a university must have a 24-hour emergency operations center, a system that monitors local weather conditions, a formal hazardous weather plan and more than one way to receive and send severe weather warnings, in addition to meeting other requirements.
ECU uses a variety of means to monitor, communicate about and prepare for adverse weather. Everything from special weather radios that relay NWS messages to gauges that detect flooding are used to monitor storms on campus. The university also has a sophisticated system to alert employees and students of emergency situations through e-mail, computer pop-up messages, text messages to personal cell phones and voice messages to office and classroom phones.
Bill Koch, ECU’s associate vice chancellor for environmental health and safety, said it takes a team of employees to make the campus storm ready. “I am honored to accept this designation on behalf of that team who monitors the weather every day, prepares our campus for severe events and responds to put us back in business as quickly as possible following an event,” he said.