National Weather Service Briefs Benton County Leaders

With school closings and icy roads a possibility, Benton County leaders met in a conference call with the National Weather Service to come up with a game plan for the next two days.

They discussed hour by hour forecast and potential snow and ice totals. People who attended the meeting included fire officials, emergency managers, and school leaders.

“We want them to be informed on what the weather service is expecting to plan and be prepared for anything that might occur,” said Robert McGowen, Benton County Emergency Management Director.

McGowen said snow could affect the roads and ice may shut down power. His office is in communication with the road department, which is also ready for any travel problems that arise.

He said they are also in communication with the Red Cross.

“If we have ice accumulations and power outages we need shelters , the red cross will open shelters if we request it,” McGowen said.

The Emergency Operations Center receives all the 911 calls and its director said they have employees on standby.

“Just let them know, ‘hey if it gets bad, we may be coming to pick you up if you can’t get to work,’ we have vehicles where we can pick people up,” said Michael DeRose, director of emergency communications.

DeRose said the dispatch to 20 fire departments, 12 law enforcement offices and three EMS agencies. He said organization is key to dispatching services in a timely manner.

“When it gets busy, you have calls going on everywhere and you have to really pay attention to who you are talking to on the radio, making sure they hear the information that you are giving them and you also get the information back in an orderly fashion,” DeRose said.

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