Severe weather can strike at any time of the year here in the Tennessee Valley. And with so many potential days of severe storms, its almost impossible to just stop everything that you’re doing and watch the weather conditions all day. You have a life to life! Things to do, places to go… but have you ever thought about what you would do if you were out running errands and a tornado was headed in your direction?
You may be happy to hear that a lot of public places do have severe weather plans that can be put into motion if necessary. This includes locations such as Parkway Place mall in Huntsville. Their plan begins with notifying mall employees of the potential severe weather threat.
Molly Bell- “The initial indicator is going to be our mall cast and this is actually the message that will go out. It says due to a severe weather event you may close your stores and follow your store procedures. Mall employees are at the entrance of the hallways on the lower level should you want to use them. When the threat is over you must reopen your store.”
And if you are shopping around throughout the mall you will hear an announcement over the intercom alerting you of the severe weather.
Molly Bell- “This would be something that would go out over the whole mall. We can do this from our security office so that if someone is in a common area, and you’re just in the mall… you’re going to know that you need to get to safe place.”
But if severe weather were to approach the mall this is where you would want to be. An interior hallway on the lowest level of the mall. Mall security would actually usher you down this hallway to keep you safe.
Another building in the Tennessee Valley that is responsible for over 800 million people a year is the VBC in downtown Huntsville. They too have an extensive severe weather plan for any attendees at the venue.
Ron Grimes- “We do have a written emergency plan so prior to every event we do a safety briefing with all of our staff. So based off of what part of the buildings are occupied we have a different plan and different protective areas.”
Theses areas consist of interior rooms, stairwells as well as an underground tunnel.
Ron Grimes- “We do move people to the protective shelters again depending on what part of the facilities we happen to be in. We have had to move people, stop the event, tell them calmly to move to protected areas. We guide them there and we standby until we get an all clear from the EMA or police department and then we resume the event. In the arena, it would be all the dressing room areas, all the storage areas, we bring people from the upper mezzanine levels down. Ice is not a good place to put people so we would put them around the ice suite. Anywhere as low to the ground as we can possibly move them. Of course away from all glass and windows and things like that.”
It is understandable to continue to go about your day even when there is a chance for severe weather… But don’t be afraid to ask about the severe weather plan in any building you frequently visit! What you learn may put you at ease the next time severe weather is approaching.