Petal School Declared Storm-Ready - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Petal School Declared Storm-Ready

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PETAL- The National Weather Service in Jackson declares another local school district Storm-Ready.

"I think there's a cultural preparedness here that is really unmatched really across the state as far as I can tell," NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Steve Wilkinson said.

He and other officials held a press conference Tuesday to officially declare the Petal School District a Storm-Ready Supporter.

He said there is certain criteria each school district has to meet.

1.  They must have multiple ways to receive warnings.

2.  They must have specific plans to send that information to students, faculty and parents.

3. An importance is placed on drills and education.

He explained that the program began focusing on Mississippi schools about six months ago, and Petal is the 2nd district in the state to be recognized.  The first was Forrest County.

Petal High School Teacher, Brad Amacker, is a director of the school safety initiative. He said they beefed up communication systems between schools and wrote a concrete plan for school buses and outdoor athletic events.

"A lot of things we were already doing," Amacker said.  "A few of them we just had to make sure that we had written procedures."

Kyle Hopkins of the Forrest County Emergency Management Agency said community preparedness starts at schools.

"If you can teach your young kids how to be prepared and things to watch out for, then they'll grow up in a world of preparedness and hopefully teach someone else later on down the road," he said.

Wilkinson said Forrest County has the state off to a great start.

"We're just very pleased that this area is taking the lead, and we're hoping that other areas, other counties, other school districts around this area and across the state of Mississippi will follow the lead," he said.

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