[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                        June 12, 2009

Installation severe weather 
plan is in place

By Rob Schuette, The Real McCoy Staff

The Fort McCoy Severe Weather Plan was briefed to installation organizations in time to help prepare for the upcoming summer severe weather season, which is expected to run through September.

Kirk Bowen of the Plans and Operations Branch of the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) said the plan covers what to do in case of tornadoes, thunderstorms, lightning, surface winds greater than 50 mph, and hail at least one-half inch in diameter. It focuses on the actions of the garrison staff to immediately provide life-saving measures to those impacted by a tornado on Fort McCoy and transition normal operations as soon as the situation allows.

The plan also will cover snow/sleet/ice/freezing rain and any other type of natural disasters where evacuations may become necessary, Bowen said.

"The purpose of the plan is to prepare the Fort McCoy community for rapid response to any developing severe-weather crisis with a clear mission and intent, using available resources to prevent loss of life and rapidly recover and to provide necessary life support to those displaced by the crisis," according to the commander’s intent section of the plan. "Advance preparation is essential to maintain needed services/utilities during response and recovery operations."

Bowen said one of the components of the plan is for transitory units to determine appropriate structures to evacuate to, as necessary. These should be brick-and-mortar structures, such as McCoy’s, the Wisconsin Military Academy, the NCO Academy, the 84th Training Command (Leader Readiness), building 50, and the Battalion Dining Facility, building 2674.

There are other brick-and-mortar facilities on the installation where tenant units will shelter-in-place, but won’t have the room for transitory units to occupy on short notice.

"Organizations will need to coordinate with us to verify what structure they choose as a safe shelter as there are limits to how many people each structure can hold," Bowen said. "If you’re working in or are in a brick-and-mortar building when a severe-weather incident occurs, you don’t have to go to another structure. As always, many tornadoes strike without notice and each Fort McCoy building must have their tornado drill plans established to shelter-in-place until the danger has passed."

Organizations should use the Fort McCoy Severe Weather Plan as a basis for writing their own severe weather plans. These plans should be briefed to each building’s occupants so they know what to do in case of an incident that might require evacuating their building. Bowen said the building plans also should include alternate travel routes to the facilities if prevailing conditions make that necessary.

Checklists or other reminders also should be included in an organization’s evacuation plans to ensure all the windows and doors are secured, and electrical items, including computers, computer accessories and lights are turned off, etc., as time allows, before leaving a building, he said.

Personnel who are training on the installation’s ranges, training areas or in training facilities during a severe-weather incident will be advised by Range Operations via radio communications or range riders about what steps to take to seek shelter, if necessary, Bowen said. The determination to evacuate any training areas in case of a severe-weather watch is made by the unit commander. During a severe-weather warning, the severe-weather shelter -in-place or evacuation is mandatory.

Unit commands also are advised to address severe-weather possibilities in their risk analysis and it is addressed in Fort McCoy Regulation 350-1. Range Operations personnel will help inform units training in the field on the best-available choice to seek shelter, as necessary, during weather emergencies.

Directorate of Emergency Services personnel and Range Operations will monitor the weather situation to keep the installation leadership informed about weather conditions. If necessary, the Fort McCoy Emergency Operations Center will be activated to coordinate all post actions.

"The plan is going to be a living document so as updates (such as to the buildings or identifying alternative shelter options) occur, they can be included in the plan," Bowen said.

Anyone in the Fort McCoy work force who needs more information about the installation plan can access it on the Fort McCoy Corporate Network or can call Bowen at 608-388-4757.

(See related story)


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