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Friday, September 18, 2020

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UH deemed StormReady by National Weather Service


UH has suffered from heavy raining and flooding in the past | File Photo

Students  try to avoid the rain near the Student Center Satellite during a storm. The University was deemed StormReady by the National Weather Service late last year.  | File Photo

After being designated as StormReady late last year, the University received a plaque Jan. 13 recognizing their status by the National Weather Service of Houston.

StormReady is a program that assists community leaders and emergency managers by providing clear guidelines on how to improve hazardous weather procedures.

“As we all know, the Houston area is very vulnerable to severe weather and protecting our students and community is a top priority,” said Director of Emergency Management Kelly Boysen. “In order to keep everyone safe and informed, it’s important that the University has the capabilities to prepare and respond that we are following the best practices available.” 

In collaboration with UHPD, the Office of Emergency Management began assessing requirements for the designation and development of an action plan in December 2018. 

UH already had many requirements in place, but StormReady was an OEM goal for 2019, Boysen said.

Requirements for the designation include the creation of a system that monitors local weather conditions, the establishment of a 24-hour warning point, emergency operations centers and the employment of multiple ways to receive severe weather warnings and to alert the community. 

OEM and UHPD worked together to make enhancements to the existing emergency management plan in light of these guidelines. 

The enhancements made include the addition of ways for UHPD Dispatch to receive weather warnings, the creation of a formal Hazardous Weather Operations Plan, the acquisition and installation of a weather station for the Emergency Operations Center and the finalization of the Emergency Operations Center Operating Manual, Boysen said. 

In altering the response to severe weather events, the University also changes the impact that these occurrences will have on students, faculty and staff. 

“By meeting the requirements of StormReady, it shows that UH has put in place the highest level of plans, processes and systems to monitor, prepare and respond to severe weather to protect the University community,” Boysen said. 

The StormReady designation not only shaped the current emergency management plan, but it will continue to influence its development in the future. 

UH will need to recertify every three years to keep the StormReady designation, Boysen said.

Some students think the University can handle dangerous storms through other systems of operations already in place.

“I say yes (the University is prepared) because we have all of the daily transportations to the parking zones on campus,” pre-business sophomore John Keng said.

In spite of this designation, other students feel the University is not prepared to handle severe weather events. 

“I don’t think so, because last time there was a flood, they notified people very late and a lot of people were stranded,” interior architecture sophomore Shela Do said. “I think their main issue is communication with the students.” 

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