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The critical nature of severe weather communications

May 27th, 2011 | Posted by govdelivery in Best Practices | Client News | Tips & Tricks

Tornado As we gear up for the approaching Memorial Day holiday, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the tragic events of last weekend. Many of us watched as severe weather and multiple tornados ripped through the Midwest destroying homes, business and lives. Communication from local government during these times is critical, both for preparedness and recovery. Two GovDelivery clients recognized the impact of these storms and leveraged their partnership with us to get pertinent information to citizens as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The City of Fayetteville, Arkansas received notice that the National Weather Service had issued a hazardous weather outlook for northwest and west-central Arkansas. Fayetteville immediately sent an email asking citizens to consider the implications of these alerts and included information on emergency preparedness in structures, vehicles, and non-sheltered areas.

Understanding that more than 500 people have been killed so far this year by tornados, NPR recently posted an article on tornado preparedness emphasizing the point that being prepared for such severe weather would lower the death rate. By spreading the news from the National Weather Service in conjunction with severe weather safety education, Fayetteville was able to provide their citizens all the resources necessary to be as protected as possible.

On Sunday, May 22, a tornado touched down and tore through a densely populated area of northern Minneapolis, Minnesota. The City of Minneapolis immediately began sending email alerts through GovDelivery  in conjunction with posts to its social media pages. Because Minneapolis offers an option for subscribers to sign up for alerts in their precinct, the city was able to quickly target specific locations to provide vital recovery information including:

  • Warnings to non-residents to avoid the area and make way for first responders
  • Information on Tornado Recovery Assistance Centers
  • Notifications to the City Council for emergency meetings
  • Warnings of burglaries and tips to avoid door-to-door home repair scams
  • Public Works schedules of debris cleanup plan

These efforts remind us how imperative it is that government agencies are able to get the word out through as many channels as possible (email, social media, text, etc.) to ensure they reach the people who need it the most. GovDelivery commends the cities of Fayetteville and Minneapolis for anticipating these emergency situations and acting quickly to communicate with the public.

Jen Kaplan
Client Success Consultant, GovDelivery


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