October 17, 2019

Bellaire is StormReady

Our emergency management personnel are great at what they do, and they’re always working to get even better, including by implementing new ideas and best practices.  Bellaire has recently been recognized by the National Weather Service (NWS) as a StormReady community, based on the strength and effectiveness of our severe weather response plans, communications and emergency operations.  An added benefit of achieving this designation is credit toward our Community Rating System classification, which lowers flood insurance premiums for property owners.

The City’s application began with an internal assessment of what we were already doing well, and identifying areas for improvement to meet all the requirements.  Through two site visits by NWS, the latter of which also included state and county emergency management representatives, we were evaluated according to program guidelines.  A StormReady community must:  establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center; have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and 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.  The assessors toured our Emergency Operations and Communication Centers, and visited with the personnel to discuss and observe our systems and processes.

Their positive feedback centered on our communications abilities—both external and internal—before, during and after a severe weather event.  They were particularly impressed by our PrepareBellaire emergency alert system for pushing timely and accurate information out to the public.  In reviewing our Communication Center they praised our innovative use of NWSChat and other tools for situational awareness and direct communication with NWS.  They also commented favorably on our internal coordination among the public safety, emergency management and public information functions.  Overall, they found our “community severe weather plans are excellent with numerous ways to receive and disseminate weather warnings and information.”

NWS will formally present our StormReady recognition at an upcoming City Council meeting.  It’s renewable every three years, and maintaining it will be an important part of our ongoing effort for continuous improvement.  Learn more about the program on the NWS StormReady website.