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WPFD, schools prep for severe weather week

January 30, 2014

BY JUSTIN MINYARD
news@dailytimesleader.com

National Weather Service has officially deemed Feb. 3-7 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week. The West Point Fire Department will be in on the action as it sets off all county sirens and weather boxes come 9:15 a.m. Feb. 5 for a statewide tornado drill, which will also have local schools participate by conducting a tornado drill of their own.
For the WPFD, setting off all of the sirens in the county is routine, according to West Point-Clay County Emergency Management Director Kerrie Gentry-Blissard. The department tests all of its 15 sirens at noon on the first Saturday of each month.
“(The sirens are set off) just to make people aware of weather situations and to make them think that if a siren is going off, they need to take cover,” said Blissard. “We don’t set them off unless we have a warning for Clay County.”
But Feb. 5 is more than just the county testing its sirens. WPFD staff will also test area weather boxes, which are installed in all of the county’s schools along with several businesses. Messages bearing warnings of severe weather can be easily transmitted to schools and businesses in possession of a weather box by the push of a button, according to Blissard.
Blissard said familiarization with the sound of a tornado siren — and the message it carries — is vital for the safety of individuals countywide.

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