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Polk County Enterprise - Local News

Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company


Polk County gets Houston NWS ‘Storm Ready’ designation



LIVINGSTON — Polk County became the first county to receive the “Storm Ready” designation in the National Weather Service’s Houston-Galveston area, according to Gene Hafele, meteorologist in charge of the 23 county area at a presentation at Tuesday’s session of the Polk County Commissioners Court. Hafele said a key component of the “Storm Ready” program is communication from the National Weather Service (NWS) through the county and out to the public. Hafele said he and County Judge John Thompson began some aspects of this effort around 15 years ago. “So long ago, we can’t decide how long it’s been,” Hafele said. They started with fund-raising efforts to install a NOAA weather radar on Lake Livingston. After the fundraising effort, Sam Houston Electric Cooperative donated space on its communications tower. Polk County schools were also given weather radio units which are triggered when storms are approaching. The local NOAA radar station helps forecasters more accurately predict when storms are approaching the Lake Livingston area. Polk County Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Shine said 24/7 service provided by the NWS’s Houston meteorologists gives vital data for responding to fires, hazardous chemical spills and other emergencies. Polk County property owners also benefit from the Storm Ready designation when it comes time to write their check for flood insurance premiums. Hafele said the community gets 25 additional rating points by earning the Storm Ready status, which could help reduce flood insurance costs. Thompson pointed out many area residents recognize Hafele from his many appearances on television news. “If you ever see me on TV, that’s probably not a good thing, for several reasons,” Hafele joked. “One, I don’t like to be on TV and, two, there’s probably some hazardous weather happening or approaching and they like to show me on TV, but I try to avoid that.”


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