Siloam Springs Working to Get Ahead of Future Storms

SILOAM SPRINGS, AR -- The city recently launched a CitySafe initiative with a focus on public safety, so everyone from city officials and emergency responders to church leaders are trying to get ahead of the storm.

The chance of a tornado hitting Benton County is 2.5 times the overall U.S. average. Siloam Springs has always kept safety a top priority, being a National Weather Service certified StormReady city since 1999. Even so, they are always looking to improve their emergency plans.

"There really isn't a storm season in Northwest Arkansas. It can happen all throughout the year, through almost every single month," said Holland Hayden, Siloam Springs Communications Manager.

City officials, emergency responders and church leaders are working together to keep congregations safe when storms strike.

"Last year I made it to the church and there were people already gathering, waiting for me to get the door open so we want to retrain them that their home really is the safest place... I could speak for every pastor that we want them to be safe, well informed and be prepared as much as possible," said Tim Estes, lead pastor at New Life Church.

Thursday afternoon was spent discussing ways to spread the word of safety throughout the entire city.

"A lot of folks are very dependent upon sirens for instance and sirens are very limited technology. We want to let them know that there are other means, more dependable means for them to find out about weather events," said Fire Chief Greg Neely.

Siloam Alert, formerly Blackboard Connect, is a free service that sends emergency alerts via landline, text, email, or all of the above.

"This is an alert system for them. This isn't something that relates to the entire county. It's specifically for Siloam Springs and the surrounding areas," said Hayden.

City leaders are also currently revamping the Emergency Operation Procedure.

"It's been a few years since we've done that so it's time to make sure that we're up to speed, that we're using the latest training, technology, and the best practices that we can for our residents in Siloam."

So while making a plan, having the right resources, gathering information and signing up for services, it is all about being ready.

"We want to get this information out to as many people as we can as quickly as we can," said Chief Neely.

He went on to say they have received very positive feedback on these safety meetings and that they are willing to present the emergency plans to any group or organization whether it is for two people or 200 people. They have also passed out more than 5,000 weather brochures in the last year alone so no matter what it takes, they want to get this information into everyone's hands.

CLICK HERE to view the first video in the Siloam Springs CitySafe series which goes over the basics of how to take shelter during a tornado.

CLICK HERE to take a look at the Emergency Preparedness Brochure for a list of basics you might need during an emergency.

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