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by Rick Wimberly: Best practices for emergency notification programs

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Flood Warning Hearing This Week
July 18, 2010
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As an aftermath of the nasty floods in Nashville, authorities are asking questions about how well warning systems work. Some residents and businesses are saying, had they known earlier how severe the situation was going to be, they could have done more to contain the damage.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is among those asking questions. He has announced hearings for July 22 in DC before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. Among the things Senator Alexander says he wants to find out is whether new technology is required or could existing technology be used better.

In addition to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Weather Service, and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters (TAB)will be represented. The TAB will likely talk about the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and how it could be improved. EAS is slated for digitization in Tennessee and around the country, which means broadcasters and alert activators will need new equipment. The State of New Jersey recently announced it would help broadcasters there buy the equipment. Generally speaking, broadcasters have been asking for help...at least more time. (See our blog on the topic.)

Senator Alexander is comparing flood warnings to tornado warnings. He says the alliance between broadcasters and the National Weather Service is designed to provide warnings of tornadoes within fifteen minutes of arriving. He says, "I suspect we can do a lot better in transmitting reliable, speeding information about floods." He says flooding is more of a problem than tornadoes, saying "three out of four federally-declared disasters during the last five years have involved flooding."

Senator Alexander intends to stream the 9: 30 am July 22nd hearing on his web site.

All the best,

Rick
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