The Russell County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will be distributing NOAA weather radios to recreation areas, churches and schools in an effort to provide early warning when dangerous storms are in the county.
Kathy Russell, the county's Emergency Management coordinator, said the office wants to prevent an event such as the tornado that hit a church in Piedmont, Ala., on Palm Sunday 1994, killing 22 people and injuring 90. Emergency Management plans to purchase 260 radios and distribute them to groups where large numbers of people congregate.
The church tragedy was one of the catalysts for seeking grant money to purchase the radios. "Unfortunately this was a tornado that had been on the ground for 10 miles before it struck the church," Russell said. "They had no warning whatsoever. So what we want to do is place a NOAA weather radio in every church in the county. They will also go in every public building, every recreational facility, nursing home ... every place we can find, we're gonna place these radios there."
EMA also plans to hold information meetings to explain why the radios are necessary and how they are maintained. It will purchase the radios for $27.90 from Manufacturer's Marketing Inc., who outbid Radio Shack at $37.55 to be the supplier. However, the office will be purchasing a small cache of the Radio Shack models because they have Spanish language capability.