Making A Plan For Severe Weather And Other Threats

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Winter and spring storms can result in emergency situations in our area, and it is prudent to review plans for staying safe during these events. March 4-8, 2019 was Severe Weather Awareness Week, planned by the National Weather Service and Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, to help promote weather safety. 
Monday, March 4th was devoted to making a severe weather plan of action. Tuesday focused on tornadoes and a statewide tornado drill was scheduled for 10 AM. Wednesday’s topic concerned lightning, Thursday’s topic was about hail and wind, followed on Friday with flooding. The Emergency Management website and Facebook page posted information each day related to the individual topics and included such things as a tornado coloring page, spring safety details and other resources. The Facebook page also routinely lists school closings due to weather, current road conditions and other matters related to safety.
Benton County partnered with the Corps of Engineers who has funded the new emergency notification system to forewarn residents of potential issues at Truman Dam, severe weather and other emergency events through a mass notification system from Rave Mobile Safety. Emergency Management Director Mark Richerson said that it is free, and purely for public safety.
“When RAVE kicked off, all zip codes in Benton County were put into the system so that emergency warning notifications could be sent to every landline in the area,” said Richerson. “When people are in campgrounds and fishing on Lake of the Ozarks or Truman Lake, it is very important to get warnings out to them in time to save lives. With this free service, we can alert you to potential emergencies in our county, including dam failure, straight-line winds, hazardous material concerns, and more. Alerts such as those warning about releases from Truman Dam, with the potential to reach people’s homes, and straight-line winds, will be sent much the same way as Amber alerts. This part of the service is provided automatically.  The second part of the new alert system can be accessed through the Smart911 app. You sign up for this service and it alerts you of the issues that would not meet the criteria of an amber alert type message.  You don’t need a smartphone to receive secondary alerts. You can provide a landline number, regular cell phone number, e-mail address, or a smart phone. The alerts will be kept to a minimum. More information on this system, is at”
The Corps of Engineers and Emergency Management are putting up signs at marinas, boat ramps and other local businesses in the county with information about RAVE.  A local photo appears on the sign showing what kind of damage can result from straight-line winds and other severe weather. The goal is to stress the importance of prior notification of emergencies and encourage people, visitors and residents, to sign up for the free service.  
Also, an important service being offered to our residents is Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. Courses are offered periodically throughout Benton County.  The course is approximately 20 hours of training that focuses on several different aspects of surviving disasters.  More information regarding course content and availability can be found at or Facebook page @bcmoem. 
“The Deputy Director of Emergency Management, Samantha Henley, puts a lot of weather pictures and other information on our Facebook page, and safety concerns from Warsaw, Lincoln and Cole Camp can be posted at the site,” said Richerson. “This winter has been a tough one thanks to higher snow totals and bitter cold temperatures, but with spring comes the threat of tornados, high winds and flash floods.  The ground being as saturates as it is will result in runoff conditions and dangerous low water crossings.”
Tornadoes are one of the scariest results of tumultuous spring weather, and there are a lot of facts about those in Missouri on various web sites. The College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources reported that a record total of 65 tornadoes occurred in Missouri in 2010, the 8th highest on record since 1950. U.S. reports that an average 47 tornadoes per year occurred in Missouri during the years of 1991 to 2015. This put the state in the top ten in the country during that period of time. The good news is that reports no deaths in the state caused by tornadoes during the period 1950 to 2018.