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Emergency plan for your family

Emergency personnel agreed on a new procedure today to keep Amarillo residents safe in the event severe weather hits.

Amarillo's Emergency Management Team, National Weather Service, Red Cross, and city personnel all participated in Wednesday's tornado drill. They learned that they need to figure out a signage system so residents going in and out of public buildings know where to go in case of emergency.

Amarillo's Emergency Management Coordinator Kevin Starbuck says, "This year one of the new twists that we kind of did on it, we tied it in with a tornado drill for all the city and county departments to actually go through the process of what they would do to shelter people in the various facilities that they might be in." Community Relations Coordinator Sonja Gross says, "Today's (Wednesday) drill allowed us the opportunity to let our people who work at city hall to our people who are out in the field actually determine what plan of action they're going to take in case a tornado does strike."

Starbuck says they went through the entire simulated process of what they'd do to gather information and issue a severe weather warning. Also, how they would give telephone and radio notifications as well as deploy spotters in the field.

He says, "We would go to this level of activation anytime we have a significant severe weather threat here in Potter/Randall counties. " Typically when severe weather is approaching Amarillo, Starbuck says the national weather service gives them a 30 minute to one hour notification. But there are times when storms form right in the area.

Starbuck says, "The importance is that if we were to ever have an actual tornado strike here in Amarillo, I have all the pieces in place to start the response and a very coordinated response to get the help to individuals or the people who are impacted by that severe weather event more quickly. "

The Emergency Operations Center recommends businesses and residents come up with a plan, to put together a disaster supply kit for 72 hours, purchase weather radios, stay tuned to local TV meteorologists and be ready to take immediate action if a severe weather warning is issued.

Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10. 

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