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Residents urged to prep for bad weather
Next week marks Severe Weather Week
andover tornado
Spectators near Derby watch as the Andover tornado roars past last April. Next week has been declared 2023 Severe Weather Week by the Barton County Commission. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Barton County Commission  meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Wednesday morning:

The agenda includes:

• Approved a conditional land use permit request from Tillman Infrastructure LLC by Skyward Land Services to consider the request to construct a 468-foot guyed communications tower west of Heizer.

• Approved a resolution prescribing Barton County’s policies dealing with financial institutions and rescinding resolution adopted in September 2017.

This resolution was last updated in 2017. During a recent review, it was suggested that the title of the financial officer be updated to county administrator and the role of the deputy county treasurer be expanded to include those duties currently being performed, County Treasurer Jim Jordan said.

• Approved a Severe Weather Preparedness Week proclamation for March 6-10.

Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a cooperative effort of the National Weather Service, the Kansas Emergency Management Association, and local county emergency management agencies, said Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller said. 

• Approved a networking project bid from Nextech for $27,474.96 for the temporary county office buildings at 1500 Kansas and 1709 Main. 

Although some days it may not seem like it, spring is on its way and with it the prospect of severe weather, including thunderstorms, hail, tornadoes and floods. In fact, some areas of Kansas have already experienced tornandic activity.

That is why the Barton County Commission Wednesday morning approved a Severe Weather Week proclamation for March 6-10.

This is a cooperative effort of the National Weather Service, the Kansas Emergency Management Association, and local county emergency management agencies, said Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller said. “So, Barton County Emergency Management reminds everyone to be prepared for the spring severe weather season.”

There were 56 tornadoes in Kansas last year and no fatalities. That is well below the average, but that was up from the year before that.

The biggest twister last year was the EF 3 tornado on April 29, which crossed from Sedgwick County into Butler County, striking among other communities, Andover. There were 19 tornadoes during that outburst.

“Current estimates are the damage was caused between $37 to 42 million,” she said. “That did not receive a presidential disaster declaration because, most likely, most people had insurance.”

This was unfortunate for those who did not since with a declaration, there would have been other programs available. “So that’s another reason for everybody to be prepared. Not only for where they’re going and what they are going to take with them during severe weather, but also to look at their insurance coverage,” she said.

“After going through the Hoisington tornado (in 2001) it opened my eyes to see what she does,” said District 1 Commissioner Duane Reif, a Hoisington resident. “And she does a good job.”

“Severe weather and hazardous conditions can escalate quickly,” Miller said. “Individuals are encouraged to have several ways to receive weather warnings.”

Tornadoes, lightning, hail, strong winds, flooding and wildfires are all hazards that can cause damages to individuals, homes, businesses, public infrastructure, pets and livestock, she said. So, residents are urged to know your risk and take action to prepare themselves and their families.

One can do this by:

• Reviewing their weather safety plans and procedures.

• Knowing the safest place to seek shelter before the storm.

• Having multiple ways to receive a warning.

• Considering canceling or postponing outside activities.

• Informing others of the heightened risk or warning.

Furthermore, “all schools, businesses and residents are encouraged to prepare and practice personal safety plans,” she said. She also urged everyone to participate in the statewide tornado drill. It is set for 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 7. 

In the event of inclement weather on March 7, the drill will be canceled.

According to the proclamation: “The Board of County Commissioners of Barton County, Kansas, hereby declares the week of March 6 through 10, 2023, as Severe Weather Preparedness Week to encourage all residents to prepare for severe spring weather.”

On Friday, Feb. 24, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed proclamation declaring Weather Week. “I urge all Kansans to ensure they are prepared in case severe weather comes their way and remain vigilant during the coming months.”

Kelly also credited the information and education efforts of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service, county emergency management agencies and media partners.