Charlotte Richter/Staff Writer
Severe Weather Awareness Week in Kansas and Missouri is March 7-11, and the Fort Leavenworth Army Emergency Management Program encourages the community to understand the benefit of being prepared for severe weather.
Fort Leavenworth Emergency Manager Don Black said the Emergency Operations Center relays information about preparedness year-round to teach and remind community members about severe weather threats and preparedness plans.
“Because of the fact severe weather can impact this area at any time, it’s a concern at all times.”
Black monitors information from the National Weather Service and severe weather patterns and distributes insights to designated emergency managers in each unit, who are expected to share information when necessary and are responsible for bringing awareness about severe weather plans to unit employees. Other volunteers for storm-tracking come from the Garrison.
Black said the fort is a designated StormReady community. StormReady communities must have a formal severe weather plan, a 24-hour warning point and emergency center, a local weather monitoring system, and more than one way to receive information and warn the public of severe weather.
Geographically, Fort Leavenworth and Leavenworth are more susceptible to severe weather that impacts the region. Black said the elevation changes on the installation and the proximity to the Missouri River are more likely to lend energy to tornadic events and other storms.
He said the historical design of the community also poses a concern as there are fewer opportunities for shelter or spaces such as basements, and property damage is more likely in a natural disaster.
Black also addressed the transient population found at Fort Leavenworth who may not be familiar with local weather patterns. He suggested creating a plan, especially because service members may under-prepare for severe weather due to preparedness in other realms of their military lifestyles.
He also suggested talking with children about weather and preparedness to create opportunities to ask questions.
Black said residents and families should consider plans, resources and location when planning for severe weather.
“Build a plan, discuss the plan and practice the plan. The second thing would be resources. Have the resources on hand as far as what you would need, such as food and water. The third thing is to have a secondary location, or an alternate location (to move to), because if something bad is going to happen, it’s not going to happen when it’s a best-case scenario.”
Black said severe weather plans should be reviewed every six months and that families should make weather plans routinely to think through potential obstructions that could disrupt a path to safety.
“It’s easy to sit there and talk about how you’re going to react to an emergency when you haven’t had to react,” Black said. “But if you prepare for it, you’d be surprised how much muscle memory kicks in to where (preparedness) saves a lot of lives by doing it.”
In terms of resources, Black suggests a storm kit based on the threats in an area and to change out supplies once a year. He said items in a storm kit include batteries, flashlights, canned foods and bottled water, as well as the resources needed to access whatever is inside, such as a can opener.
Visit https://www.ready.gov/ for more information about severe weather, planning considerations, storm kit lists, and scripts for discussing weather events with children. For information about creating a formal severe weather plan and options to consider, visit https://www.ready.gov/plan. For recommended storm kit items, visit https://www.ready.gov/kit.
For more information on employee work schedules, gate status and road conditions on post during severe weather call 913-684-1600 or visit https://home.army.mil/leavenworth/index.php/about/post-status.