With the possibility of life threatening weather in the forecast Emergency Management crews in our area are making sure they are prepared to save lives if necessary. Benton and Washington County says residents should prepare now and some residents are already leaving their homes.
With deadly flooding in Northwest Arkansas last April, it's easy to understand why Benton and Washington County Emergency Management are already planning for another devastating round of rain. In Washington County, emergency managers say people are voluntarily evacuating their homes and heading to higher ground.
"There have been a few calls,” says Rick Johnson with Washington County Emergency Management. “Say, ‘Hey don't worry about us, we're going to evacuate.’ So what we've already told those people is be sure and tell your local fire department that you've evacuated your home already."
Washington County emergency crews are focusing on their swift water rescue teams, and assigning a special dispatcher to handle specifically those calls, and direct the teams.
"So if one of our swift water teams is tied up we can dispatch the other swift water team on it,” Johnson says. “Or one of the rural fire departments if there's an immediate need. So we've been working on that this morning also."
City officials in Fayetteville offer "emergency alert" emails for residents in their area. To sign up visit: http://www.accessfayetteville.org/government/citizen_emergency_procedures/emergency/index.cfm
In Benton County, crews are working to streamline communication as well.
All the county's calls come through dispatch. But if there is a major emergency event, Benton County has this special operations room set up to handle it.
The focus in Benton County is on swift water rescue as well. And emergency management has set up teams on east and west sides of the county.
"They have all sorts of equipment,” says Mike Dixon with Benton County Emergency Management. “They have ropes they have boats they have multiple personnel. The biggest asset to any kind of rescue response is personnel."
Benton County has boosted staff, to prepare for the unexpected.
"We never know from time to time which area's specifically,” Dixon says. “So we'll watch it very closely we have people out in the field who are monitoring and will continue to monitor and watch those areas."
Benton County Emergency Management says they will also help warn residents if necessary using their BC Alert system. The system calls landlines and cell phones, and sends text messages with severe weather warnings. You can still sign up.