EMU Evaluates Emergency Notification System After Severe Weather

By: McKinsey Harris Email
By: McKinsey Harris Email

A local university is evaluating its emergency notification system when it comes to tornadoes after last week's severe weather.

Eastern Mennonite University officials say they were lucky to not have any severe weather on campus, but they say they're still using it as a learning experience.

Eldon Kurtz, the director of physical plant for EMU, says the recent severe weather has been a wake up call.

"Most of us haven't really thought of tornadoes of being something that is a real viable threat," says Kurtz.

He says they're fortunate to have a weather alert system in place, but the notification noise wasn't heard around campus last week.

Kurtz thinks it's because their designated perimeter wasn't an area with a tornado warning.

"We're now doing some additional research to find out whether we should redefine that polygon so that it's more likely and will give us additional warning time," explains Kurtz.

Another lesson learned was that, when the power goes out, their weather radio and WEMC radio transmitter can't communicate, but they're already addressing it with new capital projects.

"To make sure that the transmitter is new and working well and also to make sure we have a backup power source up there," says Kurtz.

However, they're also making sure to not forget the basics.

"And so we have done some things to identify locations in our buildings and to mark those accordingly as shelter spots for tornadoes and we're going to have to do some additional training this next fall," says Kurtz.

That weather alert system is in the majority of the buildings, classrooms and offices on campus, and they're working to get more.

Kurtz says they're also going to link up text messages to that system in the future.

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