Van Buren County received the “StormReady Community” recognition by the National Weather Service on April 19.

With this acknowledgment, Van Buren County received four “Turn Around Don’t Drown” signs as a committed community partner to the Flood Awareness Outreach programs with the National Weather Service and FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.

“Van Buren County volunteers, employees and partners take weather very seriously. Our County has seen its fair share of severe weather in its past and through increased awareness and enhanced decision making support, we are ensuring safe and uninterrupted commerce whenever possible. This recognition clearly shows our commitment to preparedness and the excellent work of our team,” Jeana Williams, Office of Emergency Management, said.

Signs would initially be placed at two trouble spots in the county, the bridge crossing on Round Springs on Hwy 9, and the low water crossing on South Bricky. Both have been sites of vehicle recoveries due to flood waters, Williams said.

“[It’s] a blessing not a soul has been hurt,” she said.

StormReady is a nationwide community preparedness program that uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle all types of severe weather—from tornadoes to tsunamis. 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.

In order to become StormReady, Van Buren County had to establish a 24-hour warning point and Emergency Operations Center, have multiple ways to receive notifications and alert the public of severe weather warnings and forecasts, create a system that monitors weather conditions locally, promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars, and develop a formal hazardous weather plan, including training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises and pass a site-visit conducted by the National Weather Service & State Emergency Manager.