MIDLOTHIAN – Midlothian Emergency Management Coordinator, Tonya Hunter said since severe weather is known as a common occurrence in North Texas, Midlothian residents can be sure that the city takes severe weather season and emergency preparedness very seriously.
“The City of Midlothian is prepared for severe weather season and continues to test our outdoor warning sirens on the first Wednesday of each month when weather conditions are clear and calm,” Hunter said. “We also advise all of our residents to know what to do when severe weather, such as tornadoes, strikes.”
Even though the incidence of tornadoes is greater from mid‐March through May, Hunter reminded us that the deadly tornadoes that struck the area in December of 2015 serve as a painful reminder that these killer storms can happen at any time.
“That’s why we strongly encourage all of our residents to pay close attention to the weather forecast and to sign up for MidlothianSafe Alerts emergency notifications at Public Signup (alertsense.com) or text zip code 76065 to 38276 to receive text emergency alerts via SMS,” Hunter advised.
MidlothianSafe Alerts sends residents automated alerts at all hours once the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, severe thunderstorm warning, or flash flood warning.
When a resident receives a MidlothianSafe Alert warning concerning tornadoes or realizes a tornado is headed this way, the city reminds residents of the importance of doing the following:
- Seek shelter in an interior room on the lowest floor of your home, such as a bathroom, closet, or room without windows. Cover yourself with a mattress, pillows, or cushions. In office buildings, go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor.
- If you are in a mobile home, get out and take shelter in a nearby sturdy building. If no shelter is available, lie flat in a ditch or ravine.
- A car will not provide safety in a tornado so do not stay in your vehicle or try to outrun it. Get out and lie flat in a ditch or a ravine or locate a sturdy structure to seek shelter.
- Schools have designated shelter areas usually located in interior hallways on the lowest floor. Avoid auditoriums, gyms, and areas with wide, free‐span roofs.
- In a shopping center, stay away from exterior glass windows and walls.
- Be aware of the difference between a Tornado Watch and a Tornado Warning. A Tornado Watch means tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. A Tornado Warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar, so you will need to seek shelter immediately!
“The City of Midlothian operates 15 outdoor warning sirens that are automatically activated when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning,” Hunter advised. “These Outdoor Warning Sirens warn individuals outdoors to seek immediate shelter inside but cannot often be heard indoors. So, if you hear an outdoor siren and are certain it is not a test, seek indoor shelter immediately. Once you are in a safe location, tune in to your local radio or television station for emergency information.”
Hunter reminded us that even though an outdoor warning siren is a valuable public safety tool, it is very important to have other reliable sources to receive weather alerts. The City of Midlothian’s Office of Emergency Management recommends having a NOAA weather radio in your home and monitoring local radio or television stations or weather-specific apps for emergency information.
“We live in a wonderful part of the nation which, unfortunately, is subject to severe weather,” Hunter added. “And while we can’t control severe weather, we can take action in advance to help minimize its impact on our lives. Being prepared might take a little work upfront, but it can help save your life and property and often provide you with enough advance warning to help save others.
Midlothian Assistant Police Chief Scott Brown said the city does indeed take the weather seriously and he applauds Hunter’s continued awareness to make the city safe.
“Since joining us in 2020 as the City’s first-ever full-time Emergency Manager, Tonya has been instrumental to the overall safety of Midlothian,” Brown concluded. “She is responsible for the City’s formal Emergency Management Plan, and she leads the charge for the community’s general emergency preparedness. A catastrophic weather event is probably the most prevalent threat to our community and Tonya has enhanced the City’s ability to protect our citizens should one occur.
She has provided training to first responders and other City staff in the areas of Mass Care and Shelter, Disaster Debris Management, and she has led Severe Weather/Tornado practical exercises for both the City and MISD. The work she has done with our outdoor warning sirens – from ensuring existing sirens are functional to purchasing new sirens in areas that were previously underserved – makes me feel safer not only as a Police Administrator but, more importantly, as a citizen of Midlothian.”