Hamilton County, TN – The Easter tornado that ripped through Hamilton County this year has left local government seeking new weather warning solutions.
Director Chris Adams of the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency has announced a grant application process for 4,800 weather radios in preparation for the next tornado season.
News Channel 9 reports one grant being for $100,000 from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) through the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA).
The other grant application is for $20,000 from the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation.
According to Channel 3, seven tornados touched down in the Tennessee Valley on April 12th that resulted in 10 deaths.
Hamilton County experienced an EF-3 tornado that leveled structures at 145 mph across Hamilton County and left 3 dead with 19 injured.
The EF-3 tornado was around 1,500 yards wide and traveled 14.5 miles from Southeast Chattanooga to Ooltewah.
The taxpayer funded IPAWS text alert system was not utilized that night, as county officials said they did not have a chance to send out the emergency message.
“This storm was moving over 100 miles an hour. By the time it touched down, it took off. Trying to get that information to those people—and then you’re talking (about how) those cell towers are already gone,” Hamilton County Public Relations Manager Amy Maxwell told Channel 3.
“Some of the customers who have cell phone providers—other than Verizon cell services—are not receiving the IPAWS messages until several hours later,” she explained.
Hamilton County EMA expects more severe weather events next spring and suggests that weather radios will serve as the most effective solution for emergency tornado alerts.
According to News 9, Director Chris Adams expressed that weather radios will be free to residents on a first-come-first-serve basis with vulnerable populations prioritized.
The county resolutions that authorize the grant applications to be voted on next week are listed below:
A Resolution authorizing the County Mayor to submit an application for a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) via the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) for submittal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in an amount not to exceed $75,000 requiring a match of 25% for a total project cost not to exceed $100,000.
A Resolution authorizing the County Mayor to submit an application to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation for a grant in the amount of $20,000 to purchase weather radios to be purchased by Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management, to distribute free of charge to residents of Hamilton County.