For Immediate Release
October 7, 2003
Contacts: Cathcart, or
University of Maryland is StormReady
Now the university is one of just four colleges nationwide to be officially "StormReady," a designation by the National Weather Service that certifies the university has taken steps to protect its community from the dangers of severe weather. For more information about the StormReady program see www.stormready.noaa.gov/.
Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will present a StormReady certificate to Maryland President C.D. Mote Jr. at a ceremony Thursday, Oct. 9, at 9 a.m. in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.
"Safety is a top priority for the campus," Mote said. "We can't prevent storms, but we can reduce the chances that people might be injured by them. This recognition by the National Weather Service shows that we have taken some of the steps needed to do that."
"NOAA's National Weather Service watches out for the nation during severe weather, but it's what communities do before severe weather strikes that saves lives and property," said NOAA Deputy Director James Mahoney. "From universities to counties to small towns, StormReady helps improve communication and increases awareness and preparedness in a community."
After a Force 3 tornado ripped through the campus on Sept. 24, 2001, university officials evaluated all procedures for severe weather readiness and implemented significant upgrades, which qualified the institution as StormReady.
The university had to meet rigorous standards in readiness, communications and administrative support, said Major Jay Gruber of the university's Department of Public Safety (UMDPS), which took the lead on implementing the measures that led to the StormReady certification.
Gruber listed some of the ways the university met those standards:
The university also constantly tests systems and back-up procedures and has received numerous site visits by officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service, Gruber said. The university's response to Hurricane Isabel last month and to heavy snowstorms last winter demonstrated how well the new procedures are working, he added.
"With a total population of nearly 50,000 people at any given time, we need the ability to act quickly to keep those people safe in a weather emergency," Gruber said. "We chose to qualify for the StormReady designation because it requires us to meet standards that result in maximum safety for our community."
The only other colleges that have qualified as StormReady are Abilene Christian University in Texas, Northern Illinois University and the University of Kentucky.
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