Emergency Officials Prepare For Severe Weather, Urge Citizens to Do the Same


Many were uneasy Monday as the threat of severe weather brought high-profile storm chasers to the Tri-Cities.

Emergency officials hope people take that fear and turn it into preparedness.

"We don't anticipate something terrible, but we have to plan for something terrible," said Grand Island/Hall County Emergency Management Director Jon Rosenlund.

Hall County Emergency Management has that plan – and with advanced warning of a possible tornado outbreak – they're making sure it's ready.

"It allows us the opportunity to stage resources as it were, or at least get people ready to respond," said Rosenlund.

When they do respond, a room in the basement of Grand Island's City Hall becomes a command center.

"We're gathering information from the field, from field responders, police, fire, medical. We're also gathering information from the public through 911 calls and other calls for assistance to piece together exactly what's happening," said Rosenlund.

He said the city started using a internal social network of sorts last year to communicate between departments and even local hospitals during an emergency. Rosenlund said he hopes to expand the way the program is used.

Blocks away, staff at the Phelps Control Center say coordinating with the 911 Center is crucial as they head efforts to get power back on during a storm.

"What might be damaged? How are we going to fix it? What are our options to getting things back to service," G.I. Utilities Director Tim Luchsinger said of the problems they tackle.

The utilities control hub was quiet Monday, though it's manned 24 hours a day.

"Being prepared for storms is something we do every day," said Luchsinger.

Rosenlund said you should be prepared too. After work, he planned to head home to make sure his family is.

"Charging our cell phones. We reviewed our emergency kits not long ago and we're going to make sure that we review those kits and how we're going to communicate with each other. Probably fill the car with gas," said Rosenlund.

He also suggests you check to make sure neighbors and friends are prepared, especially those who are sick, elderly or don't speak English.