Nighttime storms pose unique challenges for emergency managers

DES MOINES, Iowa — Ahead of Tuesday’s storm, Polk County Emergency Management is preparing as the region continues to recover from the March tornado. The county said it is still helping residents of Runnells and Pleasant Hill. However, this time around, county staff say they are better prepared for volunteers who want to help once the storm has passed.

“We were able to set up a hotline [to] know what [community]the needs were,” Polk County Deputy Emergency Management Director Dutch Geisinger said. “I think that will be a best practice moving forward.”

The county encourages all Iowans to create a safety kit that includes a flashlight, water and food that can last up to 24 to 48 hours. Then, stay indoors in bad weather. Also prepare an accommodation plan for you and your family. Finally, the county said everyone should follow the updated forecast.

“A lot of people depend on outdoor warning sirens, and that’s fine if you’re outdoors, but [it’s] not designed to be heard indoors and therefore have those other extra layers like an app on your phone,” said Polk County Emergency Management Director AJ Mumms.

If you hear warning sirens, the county is asking Polk County residents to refrain from calling 9-1-1, which is a phone number for life-threatening emergencies.

Additionally, the county also said that if you experience a power outage, avoid calling 9-1-1 instead of contacting your utility provider.

To receive the latest Polk County storm updates, click here.