Warning and Evacuation

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Birmingham Jefferson County Emergency Alert System (Everbridge)

The Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) issues flood watches (when conditions are right for flooding) and flood warnings (when flooding is imminent or is in progress) for the Birmingham area through TV and radio broadcasts. Since EMA maintains 24-hour, direct contact with the National Weather Service (NWS), it can provide the latest flood threat information. If needed, EMA can also override local cable broadcasts to provide flood threat information, send siren-equipped vehicles to critical facilities, such as hospitals, nursing public places, and send mobile address units and personnel for door-to-door warning evacuation.

Floodplain and Disaster Mitigation Services promotes preparedness and encourages their residents to sign up for the Jefferson County and EMA Alert System to receive alerts.  The website can be accessed by clicking on this link https://member.everbridge.net/index/453003085611901#/login

Flood Gauges

It is very important for residents to know their flood hazard. The Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), along with United States Geological Survey (USGS) provides the City of Birmingham with access to the Nation’s treasure of climate and historical weather data and information. Allowing the city to review historical weather related data.  Currently Birmingham has a Level 1 Flood Threat Recognition System and is working towards moving to a Level 3.  The flood threat recognition system provides Birmingham with the earliest possible notifications that a flood is imminent allowing the residents to know the most vulnerable areas in the community.

Jefferson County has a network of rain and river gauges that are strategically placed on area streams and collect data used for flood warning purposes. These gauges have automatic alarms that warn of threatening flood conditions. These gauges can be monitored from the Emergency Operations Center remotely, and conditions are reported to the National Weather Service in Birmingham. To view Birmingham’s real time flooding conditions and rain fall amount(s). Please see the link to Birmingham’s active gauges http://al.water.usgs.gov/

USGS also provides stream-flow data for gauge stations  throughout Village Creek.

Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service

Flood Inundation Map

Click to view the City of Birmingham Flood Inundation Map.

The City of Birmingham’s Floodplain Mitigation and Disaster Services team has readily available inundation map for forecasted flood discharges. This flood inundation map was generated based on hydraulic model derived information. This map is used for flood risk assessments and flood management/flood control and to provide flood alert/flood warning if flood water levels rise to a certain height indicating flood levels at the 25, 50, and 100 year storm event.

Water Watch

Birmingham’s residents can access Water Watch to view a map of comparison for real-time vs historical stream-flow for the exact day in which they access the program. Today’s stream-flow can be viewed by visiting the following website http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/index.php?r=al&m=real

Emergency Services 911/Dispatch Centers

The 911 Emergency System is a locally operated telephone system capable of receiving emergency information from the public and disseminating such information to the various emergency response agencies, such as police, fire and rescue units within the local area.

Outdoor Warning System

The Jefferson County Outdoor Warning System units are strategically located throughout the County. Approximately 95 percent of the nighttime population is covered by these units. Activation of the siren systems can be accomplished from the EOC or remotely by the EMA Duty Officer. Specific locations of the units are on file with The Jefferson County EMA.

School Warning System

A warning system has been established between the EOC and all school systems in Jefferson County. It consists of a transmitter at the EOC and tone-alert radio receivers at the various schools for the dissemination of emergency information. There are also several of these radio receivers located at the various shopping malls, and radio and television stations to warn the public of impending danger.

Skywarn

Project Skywarn is a national program designed to place personnel in the field to spot and track tornadoes. These field personnel are trained by the National Weather Service in basic severe weather meteorology, and in how and what to report to the proper officials. During periods of severe weather, the spotters are dispatched to the field and relay reports to the NWS or the EOC. If the EOC is activated, it disseminates the appropriate warning.

Emergency Alert System (EAS)

The EAS provides a means for supplying emergency information to the public. It uses commercial radio and TV broadcast services, which are provided on a voluntary and organized basis. Radio Station WMJJ (FM 96.5) is the designated EAS based upon a contractual agreement between the station and the FCC.

Print Media

When time is sufficient, warnings and emergency information are provided through the print media, particularly newspapers. A camera-ready copy has been prepared for specific emergencies and is maintained in the EOC. This information will be delivered to the local newspapers that will print sufficient copies for public dissemination.

Neighborhood Warning Procedures

In some instances, additional warning must be provided to certain areas. Methods used include, but limited to, vehicle mounted public address and door-to-door warning.

Please access Jefferson County, EMA website http://www.jeffcoema.org/  for more information on the Comprehensive Emergency Plan, warnings, watches and live weather maps.

Evacuation

There may be conditions under which you will decide to get away or there may be situations when you are ordered to leave. Follow these guidelines for evacuation:

  • Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. Use the Family Emergency Plan to decide these locations before a disaster.
  • If you have a car, keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
  • Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.
  • Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
  • Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.
  • If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.
  • Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency.

If time allows:

  • Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.
  • Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
  • Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
  • Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a cap.
  • Check with neighbors who may need a ride.

For more information on evacuation procedures please contact Jefferson County EMA at http://www.jeffcoema.org/index.html

Evacuee Locations

A catastrophic, natural or manmade disaster, may displace a large number of citizens for an extended period of time. Evacuations may be necessary both pre and post event.   If evacuations occur and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not establish a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) in the evacuation end-point area, in the past, the State of Alabama has provided resources for evacuees. One of the resources the State previously provided was an Evacuee Assistance Center (EAC) or a similar center. Typically, these centers are defined locations that provide evacuees a single point of entry to recovery services. EAC’s are usually staffed with appropriate resources to allow evacuees to get information concerning available services and assistance.  These centers may also provide a place for evacuees/evacuee families to apply and receive services and receive accurate and timely information on recovery efforts and activities. This information allows evacuees/evacuee families to make informed decisions on whether to remain in the relocation area or to return to the impacted/evacuated area.

Homeless Before and after a Disaster

Individuals who are homeless are more vulnerable to disasters due to:

  • Lack of regular access to physical structures that can protect them from disasters;
  • Fewer resources to respond to a disaster such as a reliable means of transportation, communication services, and money;
  • A potentially debilitating physical and mental illness that make responding to an emergency difficult;
  • Fewer channels of communication to receive public service announcements due to a lack of physical address or telephone number.

For more information on homeless shelters and evacuee locations please click the link below or call 211.

http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/cgi-bin/id/city.cgi?city=Birmingham&state=AL

http://www.211connectsalabama.org/DisasterServices.aspx

Community Safe Rooms

The City of Birmingham plans to commence construction on 2 of the 6 Community Safe Rooms awarded to the City.  If you are interested in finding out more about the City’s Community Safe Room locations, please contact City Floodplain Management and Disaster Mitigation Services at 205-254-2479. If you interested in finding out more about how to obtain an individual safe room for your  personal property, please contact Jefferson County Emergency Management at 205-254-2039.

Hazard Mitigation Plan

Hazard mitigation is any cost-effective and sustained action taken to reduce the long-term risk to human life, property, and infrastructure from hazards.  While mitigation activities can and should be taken before a disaster occurs, hazard mitigation is essential. Often after disasters, repairs and reconstruction are completed in such a way as to simply restore damaged property to pre-disaster conditions. The implementation of such hazard mitigation actions leads to building stronger, safer and smarter.  The Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) outlines goals, objectives, and specific actions Birmingham can take to reduce risks.  In order to be eligible for post-disaster mitigation funding from FEMA, including Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding, HMPs must be updated every five years. In December 2015, Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency received FEMA’s approval on its completed All-Hazard Multi-Jurisdictional Plan Draft.  This Plan must be adopted by each municipality within Jefferson County to be eligible for post-disaster mitigation funding.

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