Due to the diligence and foresight of Ken Kortenhof, Oneida County Director of Emergency Management, and his assistant, Dawn Robinson, Oneida County received a grant for the purchase of weather radios. We caught up with Ken and Dawn to find out more about these radios, and who is eligible to receive one.
Star Journal-How many radios did the grant money allow you to purchase?
Ken Kortenhof-We were able to purchase 1,116 of these units.
SJ-Is there a cost for these radios?
Dawn Robinson-We do have radios we sell but the radios we received with the grant money are free to those who qualify for one.
SJ-Explain some of these qualifications.
KK-These radios will be given to Oneida County citizens. Those representing a public or private school are qualified to receive one as well as those representing a functional needs facility like a nursing home or day care center. In addition, those who are in charge of campgrounds, public parks and buildings also qualify. Those living in a mobile home are also eligible as well as those who cannot afford one of these units. In addition, those who reside in parts of the county where hearing a warning siren is nonexistent are also qualified.
SJ-How do these radios work?
DR-These will only notify users of impending bad weather or other disastrous events. They do not work like a police scanner. Users can program them for different modes though. For instance you can program them to alert if there is a tornado in surrounding counties or you can choose to have it go off if there is just a warning in Oneida County. They can also alert for snow storms or if there is a local event such as a hazardous spill or even wild fires.
SJ-Does the county send out these alerts?
KK-No, the National Weather Service (NWS) sends out the warnings and watches on these radios. We have to ability to do that however, if we send the NWS an alert then they can program it over these radios to the county it pertains to.
SJ-What are some other features?
KK-These radios run on electricity but they also have a battery back up option. This makes them portable and people can take them to their place of safety or have them along for any outdoor activities if they think bad weather may strike.
SJ-What other precautions should residents have in place in case of severe weather?
KK-We would like people to be have an emergency plan in place in case of severe weather. For instance if someone lives in a mobile home they should make arrangements to go to a safe place, preferably with a basement, before severe weather strikes. Also family members should discuss their plan before severe weather strikes because then people are a lot less likely to panic. If there are elderly people in the home or small children, it should be determined who will get them to the safe place. And it isn’t a bad idea to have extra water and batteries on hand in case the power goes off. There is a lot more information on how to be prepared for a disaster on the www.ready.gov/make-a-plan website.
SJ-How do folks go about getting these radios?
DD-An application form has to be filled out which includes a person’s address and boxes to check off to make sure they qualify. These applications are on the Oneida county’s website under emergency management. There are also applications and radios available at the town offices in Three Lakes, Woodruff and Minocqua. There is one thing I do want people to know though–we know there are circumstances where people may not qualify on the application but need one of these radios. If we feel a radio would benefit them we will give them one.
SJ-Why do you think it is so important that people have these radios?
KK-We want everyone to be aware if severe weather is in the area. It is about being prepared and having a plan and taking care of yourself and family so resources can be available for those who need them in case of an emergency. And they also save lives. I would also like to say that there will be a weather spotter class coming up in May. It will be May 3 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at Nicolet College. There is no cost but we would like to have participants pre-register. And for more information on this or the weather radios people can call me at (715) 361-5167, or visit co.oneida.wi.gov/section.asp?linkid=2120&locid=184.
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