PROVIDENCE — Southern Rhode Island towns were among those recognized Friday by the National Weather Service for their storm preparedness. Rhode Island is the first state to have all 39 cities and towns complete the severe-weather management plan known as StormReady.
Present for the announcement, which took place Friday at the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, were Gov. Gina Raimondo, Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency Director Peter Gaynor, National Weather Service Director Dr. Louis Uccellini and representatives from the cities and towns.
“This day has been a long time in the making,” Gaynor said. “It took an 18-month, whole-community effort to get us here today. Being StormReady doesn’t keep the storms away, but it does signify a community’s commitment to be prepared when a storm does threaten. I am very proud that every city and town in Rhode Island placed preparedness of their community at the top of their list.”
Westerly Emergency Management Director Amy Gryzbowski represented the town at the ceremony.
“When RIEMA pushed out their initiative to have the first state that is entirely StormReady, Westerly was ready to jump into the program,” she said. “Westerly is eager for any opportunity to increase our resilience and capabilities to be prepared for and respond to a disaster. We are proud to stand with the governor and the other Rhode Island communities to make our state a more resilient state.”
The objective of the StormReady program is to ensure that communities are aligned with the National Incident Management System, or NIMS. Municipalities must apply to the National Weather Service for certification, and the process includes a site visit by a verification team to determine whether a town’s hazardous-weather plan meets the StormReady guidelines.
“The goal of this NIMS-StormReady integration is to enhance collaboration between emergency managers and the NWS by creating more consistency in terminology and standards,” the program guidelines state. “NIMS provides a consistent nationwide framework and approach to enable all levels of government, the private sector, and NGOs to work together while responding to an incident regardless of its cause, size, location or complexity.”
Richmond received its certification last June, and town EMA Director Joseph Arsenault said the town’s weather officer, Mike Lill, expedited the process.
“Mike and I identified critical areas for emergency notification such as the Washington County Fair, Richmond summer recreation and the schools to have weather-alert radios and lightning detectors so that early warning can allow people to seek shelter,” he said. “Another key part of the plan is the partnership with the National Weather Service creating a team of local weather-watchers feeding information to NWS and the weather service sending out warnings back to a community. This collaboration will help protect our residents with real-time evaluation of weather events and warnings.
“Being recognized as a StormReady community is just another tool in our comprehensive approach to protect our community and its residents.”
Hopkinton Town Manager William McGarry said he was proud his town had received the certification and credited the town’s Public Works Department.
“The town of Hopkinton is honored to receive the Rhode Island StormReady achievement award along with the other cities and towns in Rhode Island,” he said. “We especially thank our Department of Public Works for all the outstanding work that they do day in and day out, especially during major storms. Our DPW employees are long-term employees, they’re very well experienced and they know what to do and when to do it.”
In Charlestown, EMA Director Kevin Gallup said the program would ensure that all the municipalities in the state would have the same standards and protocols.
“It brings everybody up to a basic level of reaction and response,” he said.
Gallup added that the program would ensure that all the municipalities in the state would have the same standards and protocols.
“We did some extra stuff,” he said. “We have exposure to lightning because in the summer, we have a lot of people outside.”