Nashua Campaign Gained Community-wide Support and Participation
On April 30, 2015, the New Hampshire’s Nashua Office of Emergency Management (OEM) hosted the largest preparedness event in New England in collaboration with America’s PrepareAthon!SM This event was one of the more than 23 million registered preparedness actions that took place this year. Nashua’s government agencies, businesses, and organizations of all sizes participated in Nashua’s PrepareAthon!, including Nashua City Hall, American Red Cross, Duracell PowerForward, National Weather Service, Nashua Police Athletic League, Target, The Home Depot, and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.
Employees of The Home Depot in Nashua, NH participated in the city's PrepareAthon! kickoff event on April 30, 2015..
Tornado Emergency Drill Kicks Off Campaign
Nashua’s day of action kicked off at The Home Depot®, where Nashua’s Emergency Management Director Justin Kates and representatives from FEMA Region I helped conduct a tornado drill. The store manager announced the tornado drill over the intercom system and employees and customers took shelter in a designated safe area. “It was definitely a learning experience for [the store management] to direct customers and store associates to a location that would be safe in the event of a major storm,” said Kates.
The mayor's cabinet gathered at City Hall to participate in a virtual tornado exercise on April 30, 2015 for Nashua’s PrepareAthon!
Mock Disaster Strengthens Resilience Plans
Kates, who received the 2015 Emergency Management Director of the Year award at the annual New Hampshire Emergency Preparedness Conference for his work on the PrepareAthon!, facilitated a tabletop exercise in the mayor’s office at City Hall. Participants included Nashua’s fire and police chiefs, 15 division directors from the mayor’s cabinet, and civic leaders. Kates presented a tornado scenario, facilitated the group discussion and decision-making process as the mock-disaster evolved, and collected outcomes and lessons learned. “I intend to incorporate all of these findings into the city’s new continuity of operations plan,” said Kates.
Preparedness Fair Inspires Citizens to Take Action
Nashua’s City Hall hosted an all-day preparedness fair for the public, held at the end of the month, when many residents typically come to renew their vehicle registrations at City Hall. Nashua’s OEM promoted the fair on social media and local TV station WMUR9 featured it on-air. Community organizations also posted information on social media and distributed flyers. The American Red Cross, FEMA Region I, FEMA Corps Hickory 2, American Medical Response, and Nashua’s Community Emergency Response Team helped attendees download preparedness apps, including the new “NH Alerts” smartphone app. Attendees also learned how perform hands-only CPR and how to operate a fire extinguisher.
WMUR9 Meteorologist Hayley LaPoint led an interactive presentation on tornado safety for the Nashua Police Athletic League on April 30, 2015.!
Interactive Session with Meteorologist Engages Students
WMUR9 Meteorologist Hayley LaPoint held an interactive session with children in the Nashua Police Athletic League after-school youth program. LaPoint explained how tornadoes form and what people should do if there is a tornado warning. She led a tornado drill and demonstrated how to operate a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio, which provides real-time warnings from the National Weather Service (NWS). LaPoint commented that, “Speaking at the PrepareAthon! provided the children important information they can share with their families, along with using themselves as they grow up and become adults.”
SKYWARN® Class Trains New Weather Spotters
Nashua’s PrepareAthon! concluded with a two-hour SKYWARN® class at Nashua High School South, taught by representatives from the NWS Forecast Office in Gray/Portland, ME. Residents learned about weather safety and how NWS relies on trained spotters to confirm if a tornado has touched down, the size of fallen hail, and any flooding events. WMUR9 filmed the SKYWARN® class and re-broadcast it multiple times. “PrepareAthon! served as a platform for our spring SKYWARN® class to engage the community and get them aware of things they can do to help,” said Kates. “The real nice thing about it was having the National Weather Service as a partner.”
Kates Plans Future Participation in America’s PrepareAthon!
Nashua’s OEM hopes to enhance Nashua’s participation in future PrepareAthon! national days of action. Kates is currently developing a strategy that will encourage even greater community support and participation.