Lakeville becomes a StormReady community
LAKEVILLE — Lakeville joined 1,198 municipalities across the United States in becoming a "StormReady Community" when it was accepted into the federal program on Tuesday, Jan. 23, said Lakeville Finance Committee Chair Christopher Plonka.
StormReady is a voluntary program run by the National Weather Service that requires communities to develop plans and implement programs to better respond to weather related disasters. Lakeville already had adopted a “hazard mitigation plan” in 2022, but Plonka explained that the additional StormReady certification “takes [disaster planning] to the next level.”
Pamela Garant, the Deputy Fire Chief at the Lakeville Fire Department who Plonka credited with doing the “lion's share of the work” for the StormReady program, said that the StormReady certification was helpful for Lakeville specifically because the town was “is susceptible to many severe weather incidents.”
As part of applying for the StormReady certification, Garant explained that “the schools, police and fire departments” had all obtained radios that would help the town “better monitor weather locally.” In addition, members of the fire department also received Storm Spotter training which taught them how to identify dangerous weather. Garant said that the combination of the Storm Spotter training and the new radios would allow Lakeville to do a better job of “detecting hazards” during severe weather events.
In addition, Garant said that the StormReady certification process also required the town to fill a gap in the town’s prior emergency plans. Previously, the town’s parks department did not have a plan in the event of lightning, Garant explained. Fixing this gap in planning will lead to “better weather decisions and increased overall outdoor safety,” Garant said.
In general, Garant said that the StormReady program would bring several benefits to Lakeville residents. “Proper coordination and operation of warning systems saves lives and minimizes property damage,” she said.
The Fire Department said that an official ceremony celebrating the certification would be announced at a later date. Lakeville Fire Chief Michael O’Brien praised Garant for her work on the StormReady certification and said that her “leadership drove the program to fruition.”
Plonka had previous experience with StormReady as he was previously a weather officer for the United States Air Force before he retired, he explained. As a resident of Lakeville, he said that he had advocated for the town to become a StormReady community for several years.
“It shows a willingness by our town to recognize that this is a program that adds value and increases safety,” Plonka said.