Rockford, Ill., pushes preparedness via the StormReady® Supporter program

Date Posted: September 12, 2013

Rockford, third-largest city in Illinois, has worked over the past year to become one of the most weather-ready cities in the state. The National Weather Service Chicago forecast office has been working closely with the Rockford Fire Department, which oversees emergency management for the city, and other on a variety of initiatives that contribute to the NWS goal of building a Weather-Ready Nation.

In August 2010, Rockford met all the requirements and was recognized as a National Weather Service StormReady® Community. Since that time, Rockford Fire Department Division Chiefs Matthew Knott and Joe Corl have continued to try to enhance community preparedness by working with businesses, city departments and large venue operators in the city.

“StormReady communities and businesses are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness,” said NWS Chicago Meteorologist-in-Charge Ed Fenelon.

In November 2012, the Rockford Fire Department and the NWS Chicago forecast office held a StormReady Supporter workshop for the community. They invited representatives from hospitals, the school district, airport, park district, local media and large concert/sports venues to participate. NWS meteorologists explained the StormReady Supporter program, handed out the local requirements and applications, and answered questions.

In spring of 2013 the Winnebago County Emergency Management, Rockford Fire Department, Chicago Park District, and Rockford School District co-hosted two Skywarn™ spotter training classes, attracting around 300 spotters.  

As a result, all Rockford hospitals, TV stations and the Rockford Public School District, which includes 48 school buildings, became StormReady Supporters, with an announcement made in August during a ceremony and press conference at the Rockford Fire Department headquarters. The Harris Bank Center and the Chicago-Rockford International Airport are working on their preparedness plans and hope to become StormReady Supporters soon.   

“The City of Rockford has realized significant benefits from becoming a StormReady Community,” said Knott. ”The partnerships we have made through our various StormReady Supporters have strengthened our community’s disaster preparedness and definitely made the city a safer place to live and work.”

The Rockford Fire Department and NWS Chicago office have forged a great partnership which has resulted in Rockford becoming the most Weather-Ready large city in Illinois.