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National Tornado Summit Focuses on Readiness, Response, Resiliency

More than 800 insurance professionals, emergency managers and meteorologists learned how to better prepare for severe weather at the 2016 National Tornado Summit. The 5th annual event wrapped up Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

"It is very inspiring to witness the insurance industry, community leaders, regulators, meteorologists and emergency responders share knowledge to act in a unified effort to effectively manage disasters,” said National Tornado Summit Committee Co-Chair Chad Yearwood.

Conference attendees heard from dozens of national experts including National Weather Service (NWS) Director Dr. Louis Uccellini.

“Just making an accurate forecast is not enough,” Uccellini said. “We have to connect to those who are actually making decisions because we can’t do this alone. We have to partner with our emergency management partners at the federal, state and local levels to ensure that our forecasting models get into their plans to get the best result.”

Uccellini said the lack of fatalities at Moore Medical Center in May 2013 after it was hit by a tornado is an example of the successful partnership between NWS and the emergency management community. Uccellini said NWS developed partnerships with local leaders in Moore over a two-year period that included emergency managers, schools and hospitals. Warning Coordination Meteorologist Rick Smith worked with Moore Medical Center months before it took a direct hit.

“The lesson here is practice, practice, practice,” Uccellini said. “You have to be prepared for these events.”

Also during the Summit, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) launched its new FORTIFIED Home™–High Wind and Hail programs. The programs are designed to help homeowners build safer, stronger new homes and retrofit or repair existing homes to make them more resistant to high winds and hailstorms.

“IBHS engineers believe property damage to homes from EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes can be virtually eliminated if they are built or retrofitted using FORTIFIED standards,” said Fred Malik, IBHS director of FORTIFIED programs. “Homes will be strengthened against low-level tornadoes and high winds at the edges of strong tornadoes, straight-line wind events, severe thunderstorms and hailstorms.”

The National Tornado Summit brings together those who prepare for, respond to, and help communities recover from tornadoes and severe weather events. The goal of the conference is to save lives, mitigate damage and help the survivors quickly put their lives back together.

About the National Tornado Summit

The National Tornado Summit is hosted by the Oklahoma Insurance Department, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Emergency Management, National Weather Center, NOAA, Storm Prediction Center and National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It serves as a national forum for experts to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery in order to save lives and property.