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Lee H. Dunlap/Staff

The Boone County Local Emergency Planning Committee met Tuesday morning at the Boone County OEM facility for their monthly meeting. Daniel Bolin (left), the Boone County 911 administrator, and Bob Yarbrough, Boone County OEM coordinator, did a presentation on tornadoes that have impacted Boone County and the use of their resources for tracking storms.

The Local Emergency Planning Committee met Tuesday and emergency officials got a chance to display the computer system they use to track storms.

Daniel Bolen, 911 director, and Office of Emergency Management coordinator Bob Yarbrough showed committee members the GR3 Radar system and the Storm Command Center software.

The radar system is used to track storms in real time. Based on broadcast weather alerts, the GR3 shows the exact track of a storm.

As an example, they showed the track of the April 30 tornado that ripped through northeastern Boone County. The system showed where the storm traveled so responders knew where they needed to be as soon as the storm passed.

Yarbrough said that storm was classified as an EF1 tornado. Committee members listened to the alert that was broadcast notifying storm watchers that it was moving at 35 mph.

First responders were able then to follow the track to check for damage. Yarbrough said the first order of business in such an emergency is to clear roadways so EMS and firefighters have a path to get to affected areas.

Yarbrough said Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway verbally declared an emergency that afternoon, but Bolen said there wasn’t enough uninsured damage for the area to be eligible for federal funding.

Yarbrough said OEM and 911 have had the system since 2017. Upgrades have been budgeted for each year. Bolen said Hathaway has been good to work with the departments to ensure equipment and software are up to date.

Yarbrough also said he isn’t aware of another county in the state that has the GR3 system.

Bolen went on to encourage committee members, as well as everyone in the community, to sign up for Smart 911.

To sign up, visit www.smart911.com and register. You can include as much information as you want on your profile.

The system then alerts those people signed up through text messages in an emergency. That could include weather problems or even road closures during any emergency event.

Bolen said about 9,100 people in Boone County have registered for Smart 911, but he would like to see more people do the same.

Bolen also encouraged committee members to download a mobile phone app called RadarScope, which allows the user to choose any location for up-to-the-minute radar maps. It’s available for $9.99 in the app store you use.

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