The National Weather Service of Springfield, Missouri declared Pittsburg State as “StormReady®” on Monday, Nov. 18.
Pitt State is just one of 3,000 entities to have been declared StormReady® and it is the only university in this region.
To earn the title, there is a list of criteria that must be met. The institution has to establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center, have more than one way to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the public, create a system that monitors local weather conditions, promote the importance of public readiness with students and staff, and develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.
Director of University Police Stu Hite is pleased with how prepared PSU now is in the case of severe weather.
“It gave us a chance to take a look at the steps and procedures we use when severe weather is predicted, and we were able to evaluate areas that were working well and areas that could be improved,” Hite said. “As first responders, we take severe weather and even just the threat of it very seriously. We have a great working relationship with the City of Pittsburg and surrounding counties, we meet and communicate regularly with them, and that collaboration means we all are as prepared as we can possibly be.”
Being ready for cases of severe weather and knowing the procedures and plans in case of those events is crucial to the safety of everyone at PSU.
“I think it’s important for our students, staff, faculty, and visitors to know that we take preparedness seriously,” Hite said. “I also hope it might spark people to do their part as well and learn where storm refuge areas and emergency exits are and familiarize themselves with these areas in all buildings across campus, including residence halls. The most important thing to take away from this is knowing what to do in the event of severe weather and not to wait until it happens to ask what to do.”
Hite added that the partnership with the National Weather Service also helps the university be prepared for severe weather.
“I’d like to thank our off campus partners as well as the National Weather Service, who do an amazing job predicting when and where storms will hit as well as their partnership with us on Game-days, Commencements, or any on campus event that might be affected by weather,” Hite said. “We pre-plan events with them and they call us on those event days if weather looks like it will be a factor to help us better plan on what to do.”
Pitt State hosts events regularly so having a good system in place and being prepared for cases of severe weather is important.
“It’s pretty clear storms are getting more severe, so this planning effort is more important than ever before,” Scott told Pitt State News. “The safety of the students, faculty, and staff is paramount — that’s what we’re all about,” Scott said.
There were many people that made this achievement possible, and according to Hite, the campus team of leaders helped the process along.
“The campus team of leaders is incredible and our ability here at Pitt State to collaborate on issues that come up and problem solve is excellent,” Hite said. “There are several of us behind the scenes working and communicating daily/nightly on a variety of topics and weather is a big one, whether it’s ice and snow or thunderstorms or tornadoes.”
Crawford Country was also presented with a StormReady® distinction at the ceremony.
“Another important thing to note is our rapport with Crawford County Emergency Manager Emergency Management,” Hite said. “Previously, that person was Jason VanBecelaere, who recently came to work with UPD as an officer. Now, that position is held by Rusty Akins. That position was instrumental in including the University in this Storm Ready project.”
Scott thanked Hite at the ceremony.
“We take the safety of our students, staff, faculty, and visitors very seriously,” Hite told Pitt State News. “We have made it a priority to ensure that anytime there is the potential for severe weather, or severe weather is happening, we communicate quickly and effectively and have a process in place.”