Seventeen people responded to the Liberty County Emergency Management Agency’s offer for a basic weather spotter class, and another 21 people attended the advanced class Nov. 5 at the agency’s headquarters in downtown Hinesville.
“A lot of people taking the basic class have already had it before, but they’re taking it as a refresher this morning then taking the advanced class this afternoon,” EMA Deputy Director Larry Logan said.
Most of the students already were volunteers with the EMA or their local fire department. Two such students were Sabrina Bell and Carol Slade, both from Colonels Island near Sunbury.
“I’m a first-responder-qualified volunteer with the EMA, and I volunteer with the fire department,” Bell said. “I think it’s good to know what kind of weather you’re getting into.”
Her friend agreed.
“I think it’s beneficial for residents in our area (on the coastal waterways) to be aware of the weather,” explained Slade, who said she’s also part of a neighborhood watch program.
Another student, Brenda Stacy of Hinesville, said she was taking the weather spotter class because she is a “weather junky” who feels the need to keep up with the local, regional and national weather all the time.
Earl McGinley, a retired Fleming resident who serves as a volunteer with the Riceboro Volunteer Fire Department, said he appreciated the chance to learn something useful.
“The EMA does a wonderful job on getting the word out on programs like these,” he said, then talked about the effect weather can have on firefighters by spreading smoke across the area. “I was part of the team trying to put out the fires in Long County back in March (2011). The smoke got so thick we didn’t know where we were sometimes.”
Many of the students already knew each other because of their volunteer roles in the community, which made the classes a reunion of sorts. Some of those who already had taken the basic class said they were returning because they were so impressed with the course’s instructor, Ronald F. Morales Jr., a warming coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, S.C.
After being introduced by Logan, Morales took the basic-course students through a series of short sessions that taught them how to identify and report various severe weather conditions, including high winds, storms, tornadoes, hail and flooding. That afternoon, advanced-class students were given an opportunity to learn even more about the weather and how their weather spotter reports can assist the Liberty County EMA and the National Weather Service.