By Charlotte Underwood / Staff Writer
Two Kentucky state parks in the Tri-County earned a special designation from the National Weather Service for being “StormReady.”
Both Levi-Jackson State Park in Laurel County and Cumberland Falls State Park in Whitley County were honored with a ceremony on Tuesday recognizing the parks for their “StormReady” supporter designation.
The first ceremony was held at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. That park and Burnside Island State Park were presented with certificates at a 9 a.m. ceremony held at Cumberland Falls State Park. Special guests included the Kentucky Park Commissioner, as well as National Weather Service meteorologists and others.
At 2 p.m., three parks, including Levi Jackson, were recognized with a similar ceremony at Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Pineville. The other two parks that received the “StormReady” designation were Pine Mountain and Kingdom Come State Park.
“Just knowing you have trained employees that know what to do if severe weather arises is a big comfort; the condition of the river today after all the rain shows just how quickly weather can change,” said Cumberland Falls State Park Manager Dave Jordan.
Kentucky park systems are the first in the country to receive the “StormReady” designation, according to Kentucky Department of Parks Commissioner Elaine Walker.
“This is a big deal as far as safety goes, but it would never have happened if not for the park manager’s and staff’s commitment to the training. They are willing to go above and beyond for the safety of our guests,” Walker said.
Staff “StormReady” training was funded by the state park department.
“We have been well supported in our safety training; it starts at the top and works its way down,” Jordan said, adding he was thankful for the support from Frankfort.
To earn the “StormReady” designation, the parks developed a severe weather safety plan, trained staff members about weather hazards, identified storm shelters and developed procedures to make guests and employees aware of hazardous weather conditions, according to Levi Jackson State Park Manager Ben Sizemore.
“We are very proud to receive this designation and the staff certainly worked hard for it by training to be ready for different weather situations,” Sizemore said, adding “with the way weather is in Corbin and London” he felt the “StormReady” training was valuable and would certainly come in handy.
According to Sizemore, employees at the parks trained on how to respond to different weather situations and where to send park patrons and staff should severe weather occur.
“We designated storm shelters and the employees that work in these areas have been trained to send park visitors to these shelter areas during severe weather situations,” Sizemore said. He added that the designation made both employees and tourists alike feel safer while working and visiting in these parks.
“Here at Levi Jackson, safety is our top priority and everything else comes second to keeping our visitors and staff safe,” Sizemore said.