Cass County, Indiana recognized as Storm Ready Community

Last Updated on March 16, 2023 by Cass County Emergency Management Agency

Today Cass County, Indiana was recognized as a Storm Ready Community by the National Weather Service, making Cass County the 48th of Indiana’s 92 counties to earn this designation. The presentation was held in the Bicentennial Room of the Cass County Government Building.

Cass County Emergency Management Agency began working on this process last fall. Being a Storm Ready Community requires the county to establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center, have multiple ways to receive and send severe weather warnings and forecast information, have policies and procedures for weather monitoring locally, to promote community readiness and to have a hazardous weather plan that has been exercised and tested.

Rocky Buffum, Director of the Cass County Emergency Management Agency, highlighted that many of these components have been in place for years.

“Weather spotters have been around for many years, and as an agency initial and refresher training has been hosted annually for many consecutive years. The biggest part of the process was consolidating and streamlining procedures, updating a few things that didn’t reflect how we currently operate, and being responsive to inquiries thru the review process.”

Applications to be recognized as Storm Ready are reviewed by the National Weather Service as well as a peer review team. The team for this visit included representatives from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security as well as neighboring Emergency Management Agencies.

Buffum stated “it is great to have that external feedback and validation, generating new ideas for future services to the community as well as affirming we are following best practices and latest guidance.”

Buffum highlighted the team effort necessary to make Cass County’s application successful.

“Cass County Central Dispatch plays a big role in information coordination and siren activation, the individual storm spotters that relay and verify information, and the county administration for supporting our agency in the investment of time and resources to pursue this designation.”

The designation is a milestone. Storm Ready Communities must recertify and go thru an additional review every four years. Between now and that next review, Emergency Management will continue to update plans annually, send and receive weather information, conduct exercises and training and engage in other preparedness activities.

According to the National Weather Service:

Being part of a Weather-Ready Nation is about preparing for your community’s increasing vulnerability to
extreme weather and water events. Americans live in the most severe weather-prone country on Earth. You can make sure your community is StormReady®. Some 98 percent of all Presidential declared disasters are weather related, leading to around 500 deaths per year and nearly $15 billion in damage. The StormReady program helps arm America’s communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property–before, during and after the event. StormReady helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen local safety programs.

StormReady communities, counties, Indian nations, universities and colleges, military bases, government sites, commercial enterprises and other groups are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness. No community is storm proof, but StormReady can help communities save lives.

StormReady uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of extreme weather—from tornadoes to winter storms. The program encourages communities to take a new, proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations by providing emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations. Applying is easy. To be officially StormReady, a 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
  • Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

Photo Attached: Presentation held in the Bicentennial Room. Present from left to right are Felicity Perez-Nuscis (EMA Deputy Director), Rocky Buffum (EMA Director), Lonnie Fisher (National Weather Service Northern Indiana), Major Kevin Pruitt (Cass County Sheriff), Sheriff Ed Schroder (Cass County Sheriff), Commissioner Ruth Baker, Commissioner Michael Stajduhar

SOURCE: News release from Cass County Emergency Management Agency and National Weather Service

Lonnie Fisher from the National Weather Service presents a StormReady certificate to Cass County EMA Director Rocky Buffum and Deputy Director Felicity Perez-Nuscis. Photo by Phill Dials for Cass County Communication Network