Local organizations to take part in tornado test - Titusville Herald: News

Local organizations to take part in tornado test

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Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2019 5:00 am

Titusville residents might hear the sound of the tornado siren going off early March 26, but don’t worry. It’s just a test.

The local fire department is just one of several organizations across the county that will be taking part in a severe weather and tornado warning exercise near the end of the month. According to Allen Clark, deputy director for Crawford County’s emergency management agency, the Cleveland National Weather Service (CNWS) will begin sending out faux tornado and other severe weather warnings starting around 9 a.m. These warnings may be transmitted across television, radio and to cellphones.

“Part of the exercise is to test receiving that alert from the National Weather Service in Cleveland and implementing (each organization’s) plans,” Clark said.

Titusville Fire Department will be testing its alert tones during the drill. According to the Lieutenant James Brown, the firefighters’ pagers will receive a notification of a tornado or other severe weather system. Upon reception of this, the department will play its alarm siren for around three minutes, which will be audible across town.

“With the spring time coming around, there’s more potential for severe weather,” Brown said. “So, they want to make sure everything is functioning properly.”

Brown estimated that the notification from CNWS will reach Titusville between 9 and 9:30.

All schools in the Titusville Area School District will also be taking part in their own way, according to Superintendent Karen Jez. When the alert reaches the schools, all students will take part in a tornado drill, which will focus on teaching the kids where best to hunker down in case of strong winds.

According to Jez, these drills are an important part of school safety.

“Obviously last fall we had this exact incident happen,” she said. “We had tornados out by Hydetown Elementary. By practicing, everybody has a better understanding and (can) be less stressed with having to deal with it because they know the expectation and how to get to safety.”

Crawford County was stricken with tornados on Oct. 2, leading to damage at a Conneautville area care home, though there were no significant injuries or deaths.

“Yeah, a lot of things went well,” Clark said of the incident. “There are also areas that need to be improved upon.”

The deputy director said that the county has made many upgrades since the October storm, including getting identification vests for people in the emergency team and buying a wireless router to help boost cellphone reception for response personnel.

While most Crawford County residents won’t have to do anything during the test, Clark said that many should think about what they would do or where they would go in case of a tornado upon hearing the practice alarms.

Brown said that Titusville residents should always pay close attention if they hear the alarm during a non-drill day.

“That day, don’t worry about the siren going off,” he said. “Any other day, if you hear the siren going of, that means there is something coming. Prepare to take cover or seek shelter.”

The exercise will start at 9 a.m. on March 26, and may affect schools, day care, elder and health care facilities, county agencies and municipal public safety departments.

Ray can be reached, by email, at sray@titusvilleherald.com.

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