Act now ahead of possible severe weather

Community agencies prepare for storms

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(FEMA)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Weather forecast models from the National Weather Service in Huntsville are calling for the possibility of severe weather in Cullman and much of Alabama on Tuesday, Nov. 29, and Wednesday, Nov. 30. The NWS said the storm system has the potential to produce tornadoes, damaging winds, large hail and flooding. 

While both the city and county school systems are taking a “wait and see” approach when it comes to early dismissal on Tuesday, there are steps you can take to prepare for the worst while we hope for the best of outcomes. 

Cullman County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Tim Sartin said Cullman Alert is a fast and free way for the community to receive text, voice and/or email notifications of local severe weather, road hazards and closures, missing persons and more. Once signed up, a person will receive weather alerts such as thunderstorm or tornado warnings in the manner of their choosing. 

Signing up is easy and can be done in four ways: 

  • Visit the Cullman EMA website at www.co.cullman.al.us/ema and click on the top banner that reads “Notification System” on the homepage. Enter your information and follow the instructions. 
  • Download the Cullman EMA app on your smartphone and follow the instructions. 
  • Text “CULLMANALERT” to 69310. 
  • Scan the QR code below and follow the instructions. 
Cullman Alert

“We really would like everyone to sign up and download the app,” Sartin said. “In today’s world just about everyone has a cell phone. With that in mind, you can get alerts as soon as they get posted.  This could be something that could save your or your family’s life in a bad situation. Make sure to keep your cell phones charged in times of bad weather.” 

A list of local storm shelters is also available on the Cullman EMA website under “Local Storm Shelter List.” A link to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Preparedness site is found under the “Prepare” tab with useful information. Another website with relevant information is www.ready.gov.  

Sartin shared the following to help the residents of Cullman County: 

Here is a list of things to do to prepare for a tornado

  1. Know your area’s tornado risk. 
  1. Know the signs of a tornado. 
  1. Sign up for your community’s warning system and charge your cell phone ahead of time. 
  1. Pay attention to weather reports. 
  1. Identify and practice going to a safe shelter. 
  1. Prepare for a long-term stay at home or to shelter in place. 
  1. Don’t forget your medications. 
  1. Think about your pets and sheltering them ahead of time. 
  1. Know where your local shelters are. 

Here are some ways to stay safe during a tornado

  1. Immediately go to a safe location that you have identified. 
  1. Pay attention to EAS, NOAA weather radios or local alert systems. 
  1. Protect yourself. 
  1. Do not try to outrun a tornado in a vehicle. 
  1. Do rely only on the tornado siren; they are not made to be heard inside a home. 

Here are some ways to stay safe after a tornado

  1. Pay attention to EAS, NOAA weather radios and local authorities. 
  1. Stay clear of fallen power lines or broken utility lines. 
  1. Contact 911 if you or a family member is hurt or in need of immediate medical attention. 
  1. Wear appropriate gear during cleanup. 
  1. Know your family emergency plan. 

Cullman Electric Cooperative Manager of Communications and External Affairs Brian Lacy talked about the readiness steps his team is taking. 

“Cullman Electric Cooperative is monitoring the weather forecast for Tuesday night and will have linemen ready to respond,” he said. “If the weather does cause power outages, you can keep up with real-time outage information through the outage map on the co-op website, and Cullman Electric’s social media team will provide updates on Facebook as information is available.” 

Lacy reminded the public of the dangers of downed power lines saying, “Anytime a power line is on the ground you should assume it is still energized. It doesn’t matter if there is a broken pole or a wire has been pulled off the pole by a falling tree, there is no way to tell just by looking if there is electricity running across the wire. Stay away and call the co-op.” 

The Cullman Power Board noted that the type of weather system forecasted for Alabama can lead to tree branches and limbs, debris and entire trees falling and bringing down power lines. 

“We work hard to maintain a resilient distribution system, but it is difficult to prevent outages due to severe weather,” said Cullman Power Board CEO Allison Bright. “Our crews are prepared and will be standing by to respond to outages once it is safe to do so.” 

Co-op customers can report outages at www.cullmanec.com/report-outages and view a live map of outages at https://outages.cullmanec.com.  

The Cullman Power Board said customers can be prepared for the possibility of power outages by having an emergency kit that includes: 

  • Cooler to preserve food 
  • Ice to keep food cold 
  • Water – one gallon per person, per day 
  • Food – nonperishable, easy-to-prepare 
  • Flashlights 
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio 
  • Extra batteries 
  • First-aid kit 
  • Medications (seven-day supply) and medical items 
  • Multipurpose tool 
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items 
  • Cell phone with charger 
  • Family and emergency contacts 
  • Weather-appropriate gear (e.g., rain jackets, rain boots) 

Downed power lines in the city should be avoided completely and reported immediately by calling 911 and the power board at 256-734-2343. The board reminds residents to never run generators inside the home or even the garage as they may produce deadly carbon monoxide fumes. 

Cullman Power Board customers can report outages and get updates by calling 256-734-2343, emailing customers@cullmanpowerboard.com  or visiting www.facebook.com/cullmanpowerboard. The power board encouraged customers to remember that in the event of a widespread outage, its phone lines can become overwhelmed and may give an error message. 

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