On August 9 the National Weather Service deemed Fort Bend County as “StormReady.” For months, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the office that writes emergency plans and coordinates in an emergency for the county, has been working to demonstrate that Fort Bend County is ready to handle even the most dangerous storms. The StormReady program measures several factors: communication, monitoring, warning, preparedness, planning, and coordination. What does all that mean for a Fort Bend County resident?
It means residents can be notified directly of serious threats through the county’s advanced communication capabilities. The main way the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management communicates with residents is through www.fbcoem.org. In seven years using this website provider, the OEM has only had a few minutes when the public website was unavailable. The same system powers FBC Alert, Fort Bend County’s opt-in emergency notification system, with thousands of residents receiving direct notification from the Office of Emergency Management. This platform gives Fort Bend County stat-of-the-art communication capabilities.
Residents and businesses can take comfort knowing that the Fort Bend County OEM is working closely with the National Weather Service from the County’s Emergency Operations Center and a 24-hour warning point at the Sheriff’s Office. The Office of Emergency Management receives regular briefings from the National Weather Service as weather conditions develop. These briefings are conducted by phone call or by email, and strengthen the relationship between the two organizations. Whenever more information about a threat is needed, staff in each office call or send email messages to each other. The Fort Bend County Emergency Management Coordinator, Jeff Braun, and employees from National Weather Service regularly visit each other’s offices; keeping the two organizations in lock-step in preparedness efforts for our community and region.
Living in a StormReady community means residents can trust that calls to 911 to report weather incidents will be connected to someone who understands weather hazards and reporting. The Fort Bend County OEM hosts numerous weather spotter training and weather outreach opportunities each year. Training ranges from educating 911 dispatchers on weather threats, to SKYWARN training for volunteers and Fort Bend County employees. Jeff Braun, Emergency Management Coordinator for the county added “Any resident can become a trained weather spotter by attending one of the many SKYWARN training classes hosted in the county.”
Those that live and work in a StormReady county, like Fort Bend, can be confident that they are getting accurate information about weather threats; the Emergency Operations Center utilizes sophisticated and state-of-the-art radar technology to monitor rainfall across the region. This radar allows staff members to filter and view specific threats in our area. When rainfall is excessive, Fort Bend County monitors flood gauges to determine the threat of stream or flash flooding. Of course, anytime OEM senses an imminent threat, our residents are notified using our powerful communication platform.
Lastly, it means that citizens can rest assured that Fort Bend County has plans and pre-positioned contracts in place to handle hazardous threats in our area. From hurricanes to tornados to flash floods, the Fort Bend County OEM is ready to respond and recover when disaster strikes.
According to Braun, “We’re proud that Fort Bend County has been deemed StormReady. It serves as recognition of the hard work done daily by our thirteen staff members who work to ensure that the over 600,000 residents of Fort Bend County are safe and able to recover quickly form any threat.” The Office of Emergency Management is proud that Fort Bend County residents are safer because the county is well equipped to respond to and recover from whatever Mother Nature throws at us.