Commonwealth Journal

March 5, 2013

Pulaski countians take part in tornado preparedness drills

By HEATHER TOMLINSON, CJ Staff Writer
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset —  

Snow may still be on the minds of many — especially depending on whether the most recent weather system decided to grace the area with the wintry precipitation — but it’s not too soon for severe weather safety.
On Tuesday, much of the state took part in a tornado drill as part of Severe Weather Awareness Month, declared so by Governor Steve Beshear in an effort to raise awareness for spring’s sometimes volatile weather.
Television and radio broadcasts were interrupted at 10:07 a.m. for the drill, and many schools across the state carried out their own tornado drills in conjunction with the statewide drill.
Tuesday’s exercise harkens back to around a year ago, when a massive storm system swept across Kentucky and killed more than 20 people. Pulaski County, luckily, was spared — although the same storm that moved over the county spawned an EF-2 tornado in the East Bernstadt community of Laurel County, leaving five people there dead.
Also worth mentioning is the night of April 3, 1974, when meteorologists reported that as many as 148 tornadoes carved their way across the U.S. and into Canada in a 24-hour period. 
80 people were killed in Kentucky — eight of those in Pulaski County — and more than 280 people were injured in the state. 
Basically, the spring months mean severe weather, especially in Kentucky, which is why being prepared is that much more important.
The county is still operating its Code Red alert system, which was up and running by the time the March 2012 tornadoes blew through. 
Pulaski County 911 Director Lisa Gilbert said the system is still operating up to officials’ expectations. 
“It’s a wonderful system and we’ve had absolutely no complaints since we went to the system,” said Gilbert. 
Pulaski County Fiscal Court in February 2012 agreed to purchase the Code Red Emergency System. The system can include a Code Red Weather Warning System and a Code Red Mobile Alert System. 
Residents who opt in to the Code Red Emergency System can be warned of any type of situation, including a water main break, a Hazmat situation and missing children.  Local officials activate the system. 
The severe weather notification system is directly connected to the National Weather Service’s satellite technology to ensure the automated system stays up-to-date with the latest weather developments. 
Code Red features a massive infrastructure that can transmit millions of messages within the hour.
Private citizens and businesses can go to the county’s website at www.pcgovt.com and follow the Code Red link on the lower left-hand side of the homepage to add their numbers.
Those who don’t have Internet access are asked to call the Pulaski County 911 Center and supply their information over the phone. The service is free to residents.