East Carolina University experiences its fair share of severe weather. From hurricanes and tornadoes to severe thunderstorms and flooding, ECU must continually prepare and train for unexpected weather events.
This month ECU was designated once again as StormReady by the National Weather Service. This is a voluntary program and the designation is renewed every three years. According to the NWS website, StormReady communities are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness.
ECU’s Continuity and Emergency Planner, Lauren Mink, said the university has participated in training and added new tools in the last three years that allow ECU to stay current in its ability to predict, plan and respond to weather-related events.
One of those new tools is WeatherSTEM, which is an on-campus weather station that includes a webcam, free downloadable app and automatic Twitter updates. Another addition is the new virtual emergency operations center software platform, Veoci. It provides the capability for communication and coordination during incidents, campus events and hazardous weather.
“Veoci proved invaluable during recent winter storms,” said Mink. “Aside from various campus administrators, the City of Greenville, Pitt County, NWS and the UNC System have access to the platform to share information.”
ECU continues to update the emergency alert system, ECU Alert, and hosts several annual safety and community preparedness activities. The university hosts NWS SkyWarn Storm Spotter courses for students and employees. Storm spotters are trained to be the eyes of the NWS and send real-time reports to provide ground confirmation for radar-indicated weather conditions.
Last fall, ECU participated in the three-day Hurricane Zephyr emergency management exercise that required participants to talk through the campus’ preparation and response to a Category 5 hurricane.
According to Mink, ECU also was named a Weather Ready Nation Ambassador by NOAA.
The next storm spotter training will take place March 6. For more information, www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/oehs/emergency/Storm-Spotter-Training.cfm
-by Jamie Smith, ECU News Services