Tipton, Mo. (September 19, 2014) — Co-Mo Electric Cooperative members’ experiences during the February 2013 snowstorm Rocky outage has sparked the creation of a newly unveiled storm-preparedness website.
The site, BeStormSmart.coop, was developed by Co-Mo employees along with their colleagues from electric cooperatives in the midsection of the state.
“So many of our members were ready when Rocky hit and were able to withstand the time they were without power. Some weren’t. So we tapped into the information from those who were to help build this website and encourage others to get ready,” said John Agliata, Co-Mo’s communications manager and a member of the committee that created the BeStormSmart.coop website.
Snowstorm Rocky hit Co-Mo Electric’s service territory in late February 2013, plunging more than half of the membership into darkness, some for as long as five days. In the wake of the restoration effort, electric cooperative personnel from around the state met to discuss the successes in responding to the storm and identified areas for improvement.
“One of those areas to improve on was increasing members’ access to information to get ready for storms, to get through a storm and to recover from a storm,” Agliata said. “That’s what BeStormSmart.coop is all about.”
The site gives voice to tips from Co-Mo members, along with information from FEMA, Safe Electricity and other emergency-response agencies. It features information aimed at all ages and includes a section for kids.
“With winter coming soon, this is a good time for parents to check out BeStormSmart.coop’s kids section and go through the activities with them. Get them involved with being ready for a storm. It can help make storms and power outages less scary for kids when they happen if they are part of the process of getting ready,” Agliata said.
To help in the effort to engage kids, the committee came up with its own superhero, Special Agent Storm, who encourages kids to be prepared and remain calm.
One of the key features of the site that all residents should pay attention to now is the Storm Kit section, Agliata said.
“The members who best dealt with Rocky were the ones who had a storm kit ready to go,” he said. “They had extra water, extra food, flashlights with extra batteries and those sorts of things.”
The item most commonly absent from storm kits that members wished they had?
“Car cell-phone chargers,”Agliata said. “People relied on their cell phones when their power went out to get information, be it from news websites or the Co-Mo Electric Facebook page. When those phone batteries died, those who didn’t have car charges were really wishing they had one.”
Other items on the storm kit list include pet care items, a non-electric can opener and seasonal clothing.
“In this area, bad storms don’t just happen in the winter,” Agliata said. “A storm kit should be available in case a tornado hits this area. Do you have some extra cash and a credit card stored in your kit? Some blankets if you have to sleep outside? Bug spray? Some food for your dog? These are all things we are encouraging our members to think about now, before the storm hits.”
With the website launched, the committee’s work is far from over. The co-ops are currently producing videos that will be linked through the site at youtube.com/stormsmartcoop and are working on other projects to further the message.
“It’s such an important message,” said Ken Johnson, Co-Mo’s CEO and general manager. “It took a storm like Rocky to get a lot of people’s attention focused on preparedness. That’s one of those good things that can come out of a five-day outage.”
For more information, visit BeStormSmart.coop.