Waveland coast's first storm ready community

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - During this cold and foggy weather the coast has been seeing lately, we were not thinking much about hurricane season. The reality is that it is just four months away.

Wednesday, the National Weather Service honored leaders in Waveland for being ready for whatever storm emergency comes their way.

"Being storm ready is a big deal, and for us here in the agency we don't take it lightly," said Ken Graham, Meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service based in Slidell Louisiana.

No Gulf Coast community knows that better than Waveland. During Hurricane Katrina, 23 people died there and every city owned building and vehicle was destroyed. Being storm ready better prepares the city to cope with what Mother Nature decides to bring its way.

"It's about having redundant capabilities. We saw in Hurricane Katrina and beyond that if you have one way to do something and it fails than you have nothing. So, it's about multiple ways of getting information and multiple ways of getting information out," said Graham.

Waveland is currently the only city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast with the storm ready certification, a distinction it shares with two government installations on the coast, Stennis Space Center and Keesler Air Force Base.

Weather alert equipment like a lightning detection device, weather radios and community emergency alert sirens placed around the city helped Waveland achieve storm ready status.

"It's a commitment, and it's a three year commitment because you get your designation three years at a time. During that three years, Waveland firefighters will continue to go through training as well as public works officials, police officers and all the city employees will go through the same training that's offered through the National Weather Service," said Waveland Mayor David Garcia.

"Having a plan is one of the requirements as well, and not every community across this country has a plan. So, just having that is a big testimony of the hard work that you all do," said Graham.

The designation has other benefits as well. Residents receive a cost saving benefit on their flood insurance policies.

One other note, this week is Mississippi Severe Weather Awareness week. Thursday morning at 9:15 the community alert sirens will go off in Waveland to test the system.

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