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East Carolina University has been recognized again as StormReady, meaning that the university is prepared with infrastructure and communication systems to deal with episodes of severe weather, like the ice storm pictured above. (File photo)


PREPARED FOR SEVERE WEATHER
ECU again recognized as StormReady university

Jan. 30, 2015

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services


Whether a snowstorm emerges or a hurricane strikes, East Carolina University has a plan.

That’s one reason the National Weather Service has again recognized ECU as StormReady, a nationwide program that helps communities plan for severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness.

“Receiving StormReady recognition does not mean that a community is storm proof, but it means we are prepared for severe weather,” said Lauren Gunter, ECU continuity and emergency planner.
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A severe thunderstorm in July 2012 toppled trees along Fifth Street near campus. ECU's Facilities Services personnel responded quickly to clear away the damage. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Since Eastern North Carolina is prone to severe weather, including hurricanes, tornadoes, winter weather and flooding, it is important for ECU to be StormReady. “To keep our community safe before, during and after hazardous weather events, we use the StormReady standard and then go above and beyond to implement the infrastructure and communication systems to keep our folks safe,” said Gunter.

There are six requirements to become recognized as StormReady. One of them is to have a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center. The ECU Police Department serves as the primary warning point and operations center by receiving severe weather warnings and forecasts and sending alerts to the public.

Another requirement is to have more than one way to alert the public of severe weather. ECU has 10 notification methods, including ECU Alert, which is a collection of communication tools used by the university to transfer emergency information.

ECU was first recognized as StormReady in May 2009, then recognized again in March 2012 and again on Jan. 8. The designation lasts for three years before it needs to be reviewed. After six years, the application process and investigation must start over.

“The re-recognition process ensures that equipment is in place and updated, contact information is accurate, and allows for improvements to be made to the program using technological advancements in communications and warning dissemination,” said Gunter.

Being StormReady has helped ECU effectively respond to severe weather on multiple occasions. “We've had some winter, tornadic and hurricane events that have impacted our campuses and satellite facilities,” said Gunter. “These hazardous weather events prompt the university to work through our hazardous weather checklists to make decisions and prepare the campus. We also frequently utilize our emergency notification system, ECU Alert, for notices other than weather-related events.”

There are 154 universities, six of which are in North Carolina, that are designated StormReady.

To learn more about StormReady, go to www.stormready.noaa.gov.