Hurricane Ready: Behind-the-scenes at Houston County EMA’s hurricane preparations

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HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — Hurricane season starts next month and the Houston County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is preparing accordingly.

The agency has different rooms and procedures that it uses for monitoring weather and hurricanes.

“This is the brain child of information during an event,” said Houston County Emergency Management Director Chris Judah. “So, when we’re activated, we usually have all of these seats full. The telephones are going off, a lot of information is coming in. The media is here. We have a lot of different things going on.” We’re in constant contact with the National Weather Service Hurricane Preparation Center, and we’re constantly monitoring other events.”

During the event of a hurricane, the EMA has officials that stay in contact with police, fire, hospital, and other agencies around the county to ensure correct information

“We make sure that it goes out as one voice from the Emergency Operation Center here at the Emergency Management Agency,” Judah said. “That way, when the public gets information, they know and are assured it’s authenticated and it’s one voice from Dothan and Houston County,” Judah said.

The EMA has a checklist for hurricanes, like preparing 96 to 72 hours a head of a possible hurricane. But after Hurricane Michael, they have learned that you can never be complacent and never take anything for granted.

“Michael came upon us as it’s gonna be you know a simple thunderstorm,” Judah said. “It’s gonna be a little bit of this, it’s gonna be a little bit more, and over about a 24 hour period iIt went from little bit, to a Category 5 hurricane.”

EMA said it’s best to prepare early.

“We have a philosophy here of respond rather than react,” Judah said. “So if you’ve got a plan, you can respond. You can get things done quickly because you know what you’re doing. If you have to react and you’re having to put things together quickly, it’s usually too late.”

The EMA encourages people to check with them about information.

For more hurricane preparedness information, watch WDHN News at Six.

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