TIFTON — The Tift County Emergency Management Agency and Tift County E-911 were recently honored by the National Weather Service with the prestigious Storm Ready County designation. This weekend, people can have their weather radios programmed free from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Harvey’s Supermarket on U.S. Highway 41 North.

Scott Bowers, EMA and E-911 director, said Tift is one of 64 out of 159 counties that were designated Storm Ready by the NWS. This Saturday’s weather programming service offered to the community is one of projects that helped Tift County acquire the designation.

Vickie Hickman, deputy EMA director said the NWS looks at both how the center receives information and how it gets information out to the public as criteria for judging.

“We have weather sirens, reverse 911 and now we are sending mass e-mails to county and state offices, the local hospital and the schools to let them know of approaching severe weather,” Hickman said.

Also, Tift County has trained weather spotters and Hickman speaks to local civic groups as well to inform them on appropriate measures to take concerning impending severe weather.

As part of the application process to receive the award, the EMA and E-911 centers were inspected by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to verify that the local centers met all the requirements to be certified.

Hickman said she believes people are more aware of weather situations and are better prepared “when they know it is coming.”

The Tift County Board of Commissioners recently approved the purchase of two new weather alert sirens. One will be erected at the front gate of the E.B. Hamilton Complex off King Road and the other at Tifton-Tift County Animal Control on U.S. Highway 125 South. Bowers said that the new towers cost $21,000 each. He said that 50,000 people travel the area of the E.B. Hamilton Complex and the area is booming with new construction. He said that the area of the Industrial Park off U.S. Highway 125 did not have a siren and that the animal shelter is less than a mile away from Pine Hill Mobile Home Park, the largest in Tift County.

“The most vulnerable structures are mobile homes,” Bowers said.

Bowers said that Tifton and Tift County currently have approximately 20 weather alert sirens. Half of them are more than 30 years old and replacing and upgrading them will be a gradual project.

Saturday at Harvey’s people, may bring their own radios or purchase one there and have them programmed on site.

To contact senior reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321.

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