From Mark Williams – chief dispatcher at Creston/Union County LEC
This past week Union County experienced some severe weather in October which is rare. During this last storm, we had quite a few calls come in the law enforcement center asking us if the weather had moved out of our area, and some of them weren’t very nice. I did not personally take any of these calls, however I was informed of them.
The purpose of this letter is to educate you on our procedures during a storm. During a storm, we get the same exact notifications that everyone else gets. Nothing more, nothing less. We get notified of tornado watches and warnings the same way you do – via the National Weather Service (NWS). During the storm this week, we had people calling up asking us why the warning had not been cancelled since the storm was up by Stuart. We have no control over how the NWS does their warnings and cancellations. All we do is simply disseminate the information that we get, which is the same information that you all get, to our responders via radio.
Also, the city of Creston does not sound an all clear after a tornado warning. That decision was above me, and I have no control over it. The sirens in Union County are only sounded when a decision has been made by the appropriate authority. The dispatchers have no control over that. We only sound them once we have been told to sound them. Typically that decision is made by the fire chief in the appropriate jurisdiction or Emergency Management.
In conclusion, it’s not appropriate to call dispatch and demand to know why we haven’t told people that the weather is “all clear,” when that is not a decision that we can make. When these phone calls happened, Union County was still under a tornado warning. If you are monitoring a scanner, you will hear us send out pages to all our responders for watches, warnings and cancellations once we have received them.
If you have any questions or would like a demonstration of warning procedures, please feel free to reach out to me. I always try to make time to educate the public on how we do things.