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As images of blizzards in the U.S. Northeast looped in the background, Hall County Fire Marshal Scott Cagle presented key severe weather safety tips to members of the county’s Community Emergency Response Team.
The CERT team, a self-sufficient disaster relief team from Helping Hands Ministry, is based in Hall County.
Cagle preached the importance of preparedness.
"We have all this preparedness technology, but what are we actually going to do with it? We’ve got to actually pay attention and use the information," he said.
CERT team members know well the value of being prepared. Less than a week after a disaster preparedness drill, they served Bartow County after the deadly tornado struck Jan. 30.
"It was basically a simulation," team leader Ric Williams said. "We practiced taking down a pretty gnarly tree — harder than anything we saw in Adairsville, actually — to mimic tornado conditions."
While Hall County probably won’t see 3 feet of snow like the North, a forecast for heavy rains next week could present severe flooding. Cagle said Hall County could see as much as 6 inches of rain in 48 hours.
He mentioned the new emergency alert system Hall County has released to the public as a way to receive timely updates on incidents from severe weather to criminal activity sent via text, emails and phone.
"We’re really happy about that emergency alert system," Cagle said. "We had been pushing for that for awhile."
One of the points Cagle’s presentation most stressed was where to take cover in a tornado. Again, being prepared counts, he noted.
"Maybe you give a key to someone you trust to your basement. But having that plan before the emergency is again, so critical," he said.
Funding for CERT equipment and training could be limited if across-the-board cuts are implemented at the federal level. That makes it all the more important to look out for one another, Cagle said.
"Neighbors helping neighbors. That’s what it’s all about," Cagle said.