By Jewell Hillery
MAGEE, MS (WLBT) - After several years in the making, the City of Magee is better equipped to warn residents before a tornado strikes.
It's difficult to forget the images of sections of Simpson County torn apart after an explosive overnight twister in March 2009.
Magee Mayor Jimmy Clyde remembers exactly how he felt, "Total devastation, total chaos and total concern for everybody that lives in this community."
The City of Magee and the surrounding area are located in one of the most active tornado corridors in the country.
Steve Wilkinson with the National Weather Service said, "They're going to get hit by tornadoes more than most places and that's unfortunate, but that's the way it is."
With that reality in mind, city and emergency management officials have worked for years to more effectively receive tornado warnings and get those warnings out to the public. On Monday morning, officials from the National Weather Service honored the City of Magee for becoming StormReady.
StormReady is a National Weather Service program that helps communities like Magee better protect citizens during severe weather. The program also notifies emergency managers about severe weather sooner.
One of the new communication devices included in StormReady includes the use of a cell phone. Within about thirty seconds after a severe weather warning, emergency managers can decide how to proceed with the severe weather warning.
Magee emergency management officials receive tornado warnings through the National Weather Service in multiple ways. Another new emergency communication method involves a chat program on the computer.
"We've armed the people that need it most, the dispatchers, police officers, myself and if we get the information early enough, we can sound the sirens," said Joe Worrell, Emergency Coordinator with the City of Magee.
Local officials say the new communication tools are up and running and very effective.
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