Technology and outreach help prepare for storm season

June 26, 2014 11:00 AM

Ryan Rivet

If knowledge is power, when it comes to dealing with hurricane season in New Orleans, the Office of Emergency Management is counting on a powerful new tool to keep the Tulane University community in the know.


Director of emergency management Norris Yabrough says he’s seen steady improvement in the emergency planning at Tulane since he arrived in 2013. (Photo by Ryan Rivet) 

Beginning on July 1, Tulane will switch to the AccuWeather service, which will keep administrators supplied with up-to-the-minute information. 

“AccuWeather is really the industry gold standard in tropical monitoring, forecasting and storm tracking,” says Norris Yarbrough, director of the Office of Emergency Management. “We’ll get an increased level of accuracy in the data they push to us, as well as the amount of data we’ll receive. It will allow us to make decisions with the most up-to-date information out there.”

In addition to the new weather service that will bring information in, Yarbrough says his office is also using social media to help blast that information out. For the first time during the hurricane season, students, parents, faculty and staff members can get updates via Twitter by following @tulaneemergency. 

While the information is a key piece of the preparedness puzzle, Yarbrough says it won’t do much good if people don’t have a plan in place before a storm moves into the Gulf of Mexico. As such, he has been spending time reaching out to incoming first-year students and their parents at the new student orientation sessions. 

“We’re really trying to emphasize the importance of having a home safety plan, so if a situation arises, both the parents and their students will know exactly what’s going on and how to respond.”

In an effort to make it easier to make those plans, the Office of Emergency Management will roll out a template on its website before the start of the fall semester that will allow each student and parents to fill out a form and create a robust plan which will be stored in case the university needs to access it. 

“We feel that’s a really important part of helping to get a home safety plan in place for the students,” Yarbrough says. “We’re trying to get people educated on the nuances of Louisiana weather and getting them to prepare before the season really ramps up.” 

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000