Commissioners review updated county hazard mitigation plan

Caitlin Forsha, The Highland County Press
Highland County commissioners Terry Britton and Brad Roades met with Highland County Emergency Management Agency Director David Bushelman and Rob Guentter of RFG Associates to discuss the county’s revised five-year hazard mitigation plan Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Guentter is a Certified Planner who has been working to develop the new plan, which he said will cover 2024 through 2028.

“A hazard mitigation plan is a required plan, every five years updated, that tries to come up with activities to protect your community from natural disasters, to be better prepared for high winds, flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.,” Guentter said. “We went through a process to determine what your high risks are and some specific activities on things that were recommended to try to make the community safer, to protect property, to protect human life and to qualify for grant funding to implement some of these activities.”

The plan includes “10 goals and 31 action items which are intended to address and mitigate the loss of property and life because of natural hazards in Highland County,” according to a handout from Bushelman. Guentter said he likes to include “very actionable” suggestions in the plan, not “pie in the sky” ideas, so “there’s a good opportunity to implement a number of them” over the next five years.

To develop the plan, Guentter and Bushelman said they received feedback from “31 local people” representing the county as well as the city, villages, townships and other groups. It was noted by Bushelman that the village of Sinking Spring did not participate, despite multiple attempts to contact them.

Roades asked Guentter to explain “what that means for them” in Sinking Spring.

“It makes it very difficult for them to apply for any funding for pre-disaster activities, like anything in the plan that might affect them,” Guentter said. “There's also a question whether FEMA would help them during a disaster. The line is, if you're not part of a plan, if you have a disaster, you're not helped. Candidly, I think FEMA would still help a community in a disaster, but they're trying to encourage everybody to be part of this proactive planning process. But they do cut themselves off from any pre disaster help.

“They weren’t a part of your current plan either, so there’ll be an eight-year window they’re not part of the plan.”

The group of stakeholders conducted three meetings to develop the plan, according to Guentter, as he thanked everyone, including Bushelman, for their “time and effort.”

“A lot of the plan is built on data, you know — what are the historical events, what has actually happened here in terms of disasters, that can guide us and inform us to what we need to do in the future,” Guentter said.

That included reviewing the National Center for Environmental Information database as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s National Risk Index database, he said.

“A new requirement for this five-year plan was to look at climate resilience and the impacts of climate change on the community,” Guentter said. “The good news is climate change impact here is minimal.”

Guentter added that they reviewed “three criteria available for the impact of climate change: heat, cold and rain,” and while there are some slight changes expected over the next 20 years, they primarily determined the coldest days “won't be as cold, but the [hottest days] will be warmer.” They are also projecting “an inch more rain a year, but three fewer days of rain,” so there is the possibility of more severe weather events.

Included in the plan are a list of priorities for the county, as Guentter said the top five, in order of importance, were adding “emergency backup generators at very specific locations that are identified in the plan; updating some early warning sirens in two key areas; additional public outreach and information so residents can be aware of what to do when a different event might occur; two mobile generators, specifically to use to pump gasoline, if there's power outages; and continuing to expand the MARCS radio tower system.”

According to the handout, the goal is to “purchase and install emergency backup generators for high critical need locations,” including in Greenfield, Leesburg and Hillsboro. The mobile generators are aimed at the north (Fairfield Township) and south (Whiteoak Township) ends of the county. Sirens need to be added in the Lynchburg and Rocky Fork Lake areas, the plan says.

“Some places I find really huge issues that have to be addressed,” Guentter said. “Nothing like that exists here in Highland. There’s no eminent problems or concerns that were identified by the committee, but it's continuing to walk down the path and get these projects done to make your community safer.”

The plan also takes into consideration “vulnerable populations in your county who normally don’t have a seat at the table for these kinds of planning activities,” as Guentter said “the Amish community was identified” as one such group.

“We specifically identified that they tend to not be tied in with our communication network, so awareness of hazards, education of what to do when something happens and being part of that early notification system,” Guentter said. “I think you're going to see a lot more contact between your EMA staff and the elders in that community, so that they're more prepared. Not that there's any capital investment — they can they can fend for themselves — but just having the information so they can protect themselves and their families.”

The plan also includes information on “nine different hazards that were of concern to the county,” Guentter said, including: summer storms (thunderstorms, wind, lightning, hail); winter storms (ice and snow); flooding; landslides/road slips; tornadoes; drought/wildfire; extreme heat; earthquake; and dam failure.

“Dam failure was included because it is a requirement that dams have to be evaluated in a mitigation plan across the country, and it was the lowest priority because there was no real concerns of any dam failure,” Guentter said.

Moving forward, Guentter said he wanted the county to open a “two-week window to accept public comments,” with a deadline of Nov. 17; submitting the plan and any comments to the state; and revising the plan based on the state’s recommendations. Once the plan is finalized, commissioners as well as the county’s municipalities will be asked to “adopt a resolution accepting the plan,” he said.

“I would expect we'd have everything finalized and approved in early 2024,” Guentter said. “And then each year, the plan calls for an annual review.”

The plan will be posted on the commissioners’ website at, or you can contact Bushelman at (937) 393-5880 or to receive a copy.

Britton thanked Guentter and Bushelman for their efforts, as he said he believes “we’ve made some strides since” the previous five-year plan.

On a related topic, commissioners voted later in the meeting to take action on one of the topics included in the five-year plan.

Commissioners voted 2-0 to enter a Capital Improvement Project Grant Agreement contract with the Department of Administrative Services, Office of Information Technology, Multi-Agency Radio Communications System Program Office (“MARCS”) for the new MARCS tower in the county, the location of which is still to be determined.

As previously reported, commissioners and Bushelman met with Angela Canepa, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services’ Deputy Director of First Responder Communications Initiatives, Oct. 24. The county has been awarded $750,000 in state funding for the construction of a new MARCS tower, and funding coordinator Nicole Oberrecht said the county is “going to put a local match of $530 [thousand], for a total of $1,280,000” for the project.

Thus far, a site for the tower has not been identified, as their preferred location would be in Marshall Township.

Canepa said last week that “we won't be able to solidify the agreement between” the state and county “until we have the exact location, but I could certainly start on that.” She advised that once a spot is selected, they will also have to do a study on the land, but the county could go ahead and start the Controlling Board funding process.

“We are going ahead with the recommendation of the state to go ahead and file the paperwork for the grant money, so we'll have that,” Britton said Wednesday. “We’re still working on the location, but they're working with us on that to try to get that resolved.”

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Nov 6, 2023 1:10 pm

September is National Preparedness Month

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – In recognition of the fact that older adults are one of the fastest-growing groups in the nation, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA) has focused on preparing older adults for disaster as this year’s National Preparedness Month theme in September.

“Older Ohioans are a key source of our state’s strength, drawing on lifetimes of experiences, successes, difficulties, and resilience,” said Sima Merick, Ohio Emergency Management Executive Director. “Join us this September during National Preparedness Month in helping to keep older Ohioans prepared for all types of disasters.”

To download Governor Mike DeWine’s National Preparedness Month Proclamation, click HERE.

The National Council on Aging reports that 80.8 million Americans will be 65-plus in 2040, more than twice as many as in 2000. Emergencies and disasters can occur with little notice and older adults who are low-income, live-in rural areas, or live alone may face greater risks of injury or death.

Consider the many types of emergencies and disasters and the impacts they pose. What can older Ohioans do to be prepared and keep out of harm’s way? One way to prepare is by making an emergency plan, including preparing an emergency kit in advance. When making a plan, consider the following:

How will you receive emergency alerts and warnings?
What is your household’s shelter plan?
What is your evacuation route?
What is your family/household communication plan?
Do you need to update your emergency preparedness kit?
Document and Insure Your Property
All Ohioans are encouraged to review safety plans, practice family evacuation routes and know how to contact each other during emergencies.

“We want to inspire older Ohioans to do what they can ahead of time to be ready if emergencies strike,” said Ursel J. McElroy, Director of the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA). “Help yourselves now by having an emergency plan, preparing an emergency kit, and knowing how to get in touch with your loved ones.”

Follow along on Ohio EMA social media Facebook and Twitter accounts for more preparedness tips.To learn more about preparedness, visit the Ohio Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio Department of Aging on the web.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Aug 31, 2023 8:13 am

Highland County Tornado - March 3rd, 2023

Highland County Response to March 3rd 2023 Tornado

Highland County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), March 3, 2023, 9:00AM - A tornado touched down in Highland County on March 3rd at approximately 5:23 PM. The tornado touched down southwest of Hillsboro, moving from St. Rt. 138 through the communities of Fairview and Willetsville, towards the Village of Highland. The tornado caused damage to approximately 20 homes, a church, and multiple barns and outbuildings in the area.

A second area in southern Highland County near the Village of Marshall also reported a potential tornado with some reported damage to agricultural buildings.

Prolonged periods of high wind continued throughout the night, causing additional damage, downed limbs and trees, and power outages.

As of 8AM March 4th, 2,547 residences remain without power. No estimates are available for when power will be restored.

The Highland County Emergency Management Agency is deploying damage assessment teams throughout Highland County this morning to identify the scope of tornado and storm damage.

To report damage to your residence, please call the Highland County EMA at (937) 393-5880.

To report damage to agricultural structures, please call the Farm Service Agency at (937) 393-1921.

The Highland County EMA wants to remind the community to be careful around downed power lines. To report downed power lines, please call your electric supplier or call the Highland County Sheriff’s Office at (937) 393-1421.

The Highland County EMA has established an Emergency Operation Center to coordinate Highland County’s response to this tornado. Please contact the EOC at (937) 393-5880 with any questions about Highland County response operations. Further updates will be released as needed.

Author: Jared Warner
Posted: Mar 4, 2023 10:06 am

Hyper-Reach Chosen to Help Protect Lives and Property

Highland County OH Selects Emergency Notification Provider
Hyper-Reach Chosen to Help Protect Lives and Property
August 17, 2022
For Immediate Release
Telephone-based mass notifications systems are used by thousands of public safety agencies across the US to warn citizens about local emergencies, hazards and other threats. Now Highland County announces that they have selected Hyper-Reach to help bring this same life-saving capability to the area. Hyper-Reach is a state of the art mass emergency notification system designed specifically for public safety. The county expects to have the service fully operational by the end of September.
The new emergency alert system will provide rapid notification of hazardous and urgent situations using a mix of telephone calls, text and email messages, and even TTY/TDD service for the hearing impaired. The system sends thousands of these messages to geographically targeted households in seconds, and can simultaneously deliver them to an even broader audience via social media, as well as sending broadcast messages to most current mobile telephones (made since 2011) in an affected area by providing access to FEMA’s Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system.
“Our job is to protect the citizens of Highland County as effectively and cost-effectively as possible.” said David Bushelman, Director of the Emergency Management Agency for Highland County. “We reviewed all the major vendors for emergency notification service, and Hyper-Reach gave us everything we needed at an unbelievable price. We’re really excited about this new capability.”
The County plans to use the service primarily for alerts about weather and environmental hazards, criminal activity and missing persons. Landline phones are automatically enrolled for Community alerts, but Weather alerts to landline phones and Community and Weather alerts to VoIP phones, mobile phones, and email addresses are only included when people enroll. Residents and people who work in Highland County are encouraged to enroll now (using a county address) either by calling or texting “Alert” to (937) 500-0648 or by going to the website
Citizens can get emergency alerts via their Alexa-enabled smart speakers just by saying “Alexa, enable Hyper-Reach” and following the Alexa-provided instructions. With more than 50 million US households using Alexa devices, there are obviously hundreds of County residents with Alexa units.
Citizens can also download the Hyper-Reach Anywhere app on their smartphone. Hyper-Reach Anywhere is a free smartphone app that allows individual citizens to manage and monitor the alerts they receive, both for their home and office addresses and for other addresses they care about such as those of elderly relatives or friends.
“We’re honored to have been selected by Highland County to provide its emergency alerts,” said Sam Asher, President of Hyper-Reach. “It’s gratifying to be part of an effort to save lives and protect property and we take that responsibility very seriously.”
About Hyper-Reach
Hyper-Reach ( is a mass notification system with over 15 years of experience in emergency messaging. Hyper-Reach sends messages via automated telephone calls, text messaging (SMS), email, and social media, such as Twitter. Other uses of Hyper-Reach include Amber alerts, toxic chemical warnings, and armed shooter alerts. In addition to 911 centers, Hyper-Reach is used by law enforcement, educational institutions, and corporations

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Aug 17, 2022 12:31 pm

Ohio EMA Offers Rebates to Homeowners for Tornado Safe Rooms

Application Period is Open January 4 - February 4

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Homeowners throughout Ohio now have the opportunity to apply to receive reimbursement for the purchase and construction/installation of a tornado safe room inside or outside their homes.

A safe room is a structure specifically designed to provide protection in extreme weather events. The Ohio Emergency Management Agency’s (Ohio EMA) rebate program provides a rebate of up to 75 percent to homeowners selected for the program.

Ohio EMA is accepting applications for its Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program, January 4 through February 4, 2022.

“In neighboring Kentucky last month, a catastrophic tornado killed close to 100 people, and Ohio has seen its own share of deadly tornadoes as well,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “Because our entire state is vulnerable to tornadoes, we’re offering these rebates to help cover some of the costs associated with the added protection of a safe room.”

Last year, the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed that twenty-eight tornadoes touched down in Ohio, including the December 11, 2021 EF-1 tornado in Hardin County, and two separate “tornado outbreaks” in October 2021 that totaled fourteen different tornadoes.

“Safe rooms offer protection to a tornado’s strong winds and resulting airborne debris and provides near-absolute protection for occupants,” said Ohio EMA Executive Director Sima Merick. “We urge Ohioans to apply for these grants.”

This is the ninth year for the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program. To date, more than $1.9 million in rebates have been awarded to homeowners for the construction of more than 250 safe rooms across the state.

Safe rooms can be constructed/installed in one of several places in the home, including in the basement; beneath a concrete slab-on-grade foundation or garage floor; or in an interior room on the first floor. A safe room may also be buried in the yard or be a stand-alone structure near the home.

The deadline to apply to participate in the Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program is February 4, 2022 at 5:00 PM.

Residents selected for the program are eligible for a rebate up to 75 percent of the cost to install or construct a safe room – up to a maximum of $4,875.

For more information and to apply, visit the Ohio EMA Safe Room Rebate Program webpage.

Additional Information: The Ohio Safe Room Rebate Program will use a computerized random selection process to select applicants. A priority list of applicants will be created from the selected applicants. Chosen homeowners will be notified by email of their position on the priority list on or after February 21, 2022. Ohio EMA anticipates grant funding will become available this year and having a list of participants who meet program requirements will expedite the rebate process.

Funding for the rebate program is through a partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs. Ohio homeowners would be responsible for 25 percent of the construction costs and any additional costs over the 75 percent maximum rebate of $4,875.

Safe rooms must meet FEMA requirements in FEMA publications 320 and 361 and cannot be constructed/installed prior to the rebate drawing and notification from Ohio EMA to proceed with construction. Ohio EMA plans to offer this rebate program on an annual basis.

Homeowners with questions should call Ohio Emergency Management Agency Mitigation Specialist Dan Clevidence at 614-799-3533

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Jan 4, 2022 8:13 am

Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 21-27, 2021

Disasters Don't Stop. Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 21-27
Practice Safety Plans during Ohio's Statewide Tornado Drill, March 24th
COLUMBUS, OH – This past year has illustrated that the public must remain vigilant and protect themselves from a host of potential incidents and hazards, including severe weather. Disasters can happen anytime, anywhere, and Ohioans should be prepared.

“Everything we focus on here in Ohio is about safety and preparedness. It’s about getting vaccinated and slowing the spread of COVID-19. It’s about keeping Ohioans healthy and saving lives now and in the future,” said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. “Whether a medical emergency or severe weather event, it’s imperative that Ohioans know how to respond during times of crisis.”

In a coordinated effort with the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA), Governor DeWine has proclaimed March 21-27 as Severe Weather Awareness Week and is encouraging all Ohioans to prepare themselves for spring and summer weather hazards and home emergencies.

“Severe weather is not going to put itself on hold because of COVID-19. Ohio’s temperatures often fluctuate between cold and warm during late winter or early spring, which is the perfect formula for tornadoes,” said Ohio Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Sima Merick. “Fortunately, we haven’t had any tornadoes this winter. But last January, two separate EF-0 tornadoes touched down in Miami County on the same day. Being a Midwestern state, we have to be ready. Severe Weather Awareness Week is the perfect time to not only restock your emergency supplies, but also review your emergency plans and practice your safety drills.”

At 9:50 a.m. on Wednesday, March 24, each local community will participate in a statewide tornado drill and test its Emergency Alert System. Ohio counties will sound and test their outdoor warning sirens. Businesses, schools, and households are also encouraged to practice their tornado drills and emergency plans at this time.

What Can Ohioans Do during Severe Weather Awareness Week?

Prepare for Weather and Home Emergencies. Families, schools, and businesses should update or create their safety plans, practice tornado and fire drills, and determine where to go and what to do in the event of flooding, thunderstorms, tornadoes, or a fire. OSCSWA encourages Ohioans to integrate COVID-19 safety protocols into their plans and practice taking shelter while following social and physical distancing guidelines. Disposable face masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes should be included in emergency supply kits.

Know Ohio’s Weather Hazards. Ohio’s weather hazards from early spring into summer include snowmelt and flooding, tornadoes, and thunderstorms. Visit the OCSWA website to view current Ohio weather and review severe weather safety and preparedness information.

Weather-Ready Tip: Never attempt to cross a flooded road on foot or in a vehicle. Manhole covers or the ground underneath could be washed away. Turn Around Don’t Drown®.

Know the Difference between Storm Watches and Warnings.

A Tornado WATCH means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and near areas designated by the National Weather Service. Be ready to move to a place of safety if the watch is upgraded to a warning or if threatening weather approaches.

A Tornado WARNING means a tornado is imminent or has been sighted. Warnings indicate impending danger to life and property. Seek safe shelter immediately.

Weather-Ready Tip: Knowing a “safe place” is the most essential preparedness activity to save a life from severe weather. No matter where Ohioans are, they should know where to go if severe weather approaches.

During tornado drills or actual tornado warnings, remember to DUCK!

D – Go DOWN to the lowest level, stay away from windows
U – Get UNDER something (such as a basement staircase or heavy table or desk)
C – COVER the head
K – KEEP in shelter until the storm has passed

Many Ohio counties have outdoor warning sirens that sound when severe weather is imminent. During storm watches or warnings, listen to your National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or your local news for current weather conditions and information.

Cellphones may also alert you to storm warnings. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are free notifications delivered to mobile devices as part of a public safety system. WEAs can notify listeners of imminent weather, local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action, and AMBER Alerts.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Mar 17, 2021 1:01 pm

Winter Safety Awareness Week is November 15-21

This winter, while Ohioans focus on protecting themselves from COVID-19 and other contagious illnesses such as colds and the flu, the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness is also reminding citizens about the importance of preparing for winter weather and winter emergencies.

“Take the time during Winter Safety Awareness Week to ensure that your emergency supply kits are well-stocked, and your homes and vehicles are prepped and conditioned for the upcoming winter months,” said Ohio Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Sima Merick.
“It’s also a good time to update your safety plans, practice those plans, and prepare for winter-related incidents.”

Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted have declared November 15 through 21 as Winter Safety Awareness Week, which encourages Ohioans to take simple steps to help minimize risks associated with winter weather. Click to view the 2020 Winter Safety Awareness Week Resolution.

According to the annual National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) U.S. Winter Outlook, the 2020-2021 temperature map shows that below-average temperatures are likely in parts the North and above-average temperatures likely in the South. The U.S. Precipitation Outlook shows wetter-than-average conditions most likely across the northern tier of the country, extending from the Pacific Northwest, across the Northern Plains and Great Lakes, and into the Ohio Valley.

Already this month, Ohio has seen changes in weather. On Nov.1, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued wind and winter weather advisories for northeast Ohio. Strong winds caused power outages for thousands of residents in Ashtabula, Lake, and Cuyahoga counties. Many areas in Ohio also saw light snow on Nov. 1. Temperatures have also fluctuated this month, from highs in the 70s, to lows in the 20s.

“Keep in mind, Ohio sees more than snow and ice during the winter,” said Merick. “On January 11, this year, the NWS confirmed two EF0 tornadoes in Miami County. This shows that no matter what season we’re in, it’s important to be prepared for all risks and emergencies.”

The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness recommends the following winter travel, safety, and preparedness tips:

Holiday safety in a COVID-19 environment. Celebrating the holidays virtually or with members of your own household poses the lowest risk for COVID-19 spread.

If you are planning to host or attend a social gathering during the holidays, there are a few important factors to consider:

• Information on the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Ohio, including breakdown by county, is available on the Ohio Department of Health’s website.

• Gatherings with people outside of your household pose a higher risk of COVID-19 spread.

• Indoor gatherings pose more risk than outdoor gatherings.If you are planning to travel this year for an upcoming holiday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer some factors to consider:

• Know your travel destination’s COVID-19 positivity rate. The more positive cases of COVID-19 there are at your destination, the more likely you are to become infected during travel and spread the virus to others when you return. Check each state’s positivity rate.

• Wear a mask to keep your nose and mouth covered while in public settings, including on public transportation and in transportation hubs, such as airports and bus or train stations.

• Avoid close contact by staying at least six feet apart from anyone not from your household.

• Do not travel if you are sick or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 within the past 14 days. Do not travel with someone who is sick.

Practice fire safety and prevention. With the winter months, holiday season, and a continuing pandemic, people will be indoors more, and will cook, decorate, and possibly entertain more, which can lead to more home fires. The best protection is to have working smoke detectors in the home. Test your detectors monthly. Conduct fire drills. Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year – when you change your clocks, change your batteries.

Have auxiliary heaters, furnaces, and fireplaces checked or serviced before using. Cooking-related fires are the number one cause of home fires. Never leave cooking food unattended. Keep towels, potholders, and paper products away from the stove’s heat sources.

Prepare your home for winter. Remove and cut away low-hanging and dead tree branches. Strong winds, ice, and snow can cause tree limbs to break and could cause damage to your home. Have your gutters cleaned. Snow and ice can build up quickly if clogged with debris.

Prepare winter emergency supplies kits for the home and vehicle. Check the expiration dates on nonperishable food items, bottled water/beverages, and medications. Winter emergency kits should include flashlights, extra batteries, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, a battery-operated radio/weather radio, first aid kit, cell phone and charger, and enough nonperishable food and water (one gallon per person, per day) to sustain every household member for several days. Store food, bottled water, and supplies for your pets, as well.

The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA) is comprised of 17 local, state, and federal agencies and organizations. For additional information on winter weather safety and severe weather preparedness, visit OCSWA’s website.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Nov 12, 2020 1:04 pm

September is National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is recognized annually in September to encourage family and community disaster planning not only for a month, but throughout the year. As our state and nation continue to respond to COVID-19, National Preparedness Month is an ideal time for Ohioans to ensure they are prepared for any disaster, including a pandemic.
This year’s theme for NPM is: “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.”
“Even while battling the coronavirus, Ohioans have dealt with other emergencies, including floods, tornadoes, and extreme heat,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “Disasters can happen at any time, and National Preparedness Month is a good time to ensure you’re ready to handle the next emergency.”
“As the governor said, disasters don’t pause because of the coronavirus,” said Ohio Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Sima Merick. “We have to stay diligent. We have to stay prepared. We have to make plans to protect ourselves and loved ones from hazards and severe weather events that can impact our lives. Making and practicing your emergency plans, which includes having disaster supply kits for the home and car, are just a few things that we all can do to be safe and resilient.”
In coordination with FEMA’s Ready campaign, the Ohio EMA and ReadyOhio encourage households, county EMAs, businesses, schools, and places of worship to plan for emergencies by participating in the weekly themes for NPM 2020:
Week 1 (Aug. 31-Sept. 4): COVID-19 Safety & Preparedness Information
Week 2 (September 7-11): Make an Emergency Plan
Week 3 (September 14-18): Build a Kit
Week 4 (September 21-25): Youth Emergency Preparedness
Throughout September, Ohio EMA will post emergency preparedness information on Facebook and Twitter that coincide with the NPM weekly themes.
Visit ReadyOhio for additional information on emergency safety and preparedness.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Sep 1, 2020 10:19 am

Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 21-27.

Protect Yourself From Severe Thunderstorms
Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 21-27.
COLUMBUS — In an annual coordinated effort with the National Weather Service (NWS), the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness is promoting June 21-27 as National Lightning Safety Awareness Week and encourages all Ohioans to know what to do before, during, and after thunderstorms and to practice severe weather safety and preparedness throughout the summer.

Since the inception of Lightning Safety Awareness Week in 2001, lightning fatalities in the U.S. have dropped from about 50 per year to an average of 30 or less per year. The NWS attributes this reduction to this weather safety campaign, to a greater awareness of lightning danger, and to people seeking safe shelter when thunderstorms develop.

As of June 15, 2020, three people have died after being struck by lightning in the United States this year. Last year, 20 people in a total of 13 states died from being struck by lightning. This includes two women from the Cincinnati area who tried to seek shelter from a storm under a tree.

There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. But you can protect yourself, even if you’re caught outdoors when thunder and lightning storms are close by knowing lightning safety. The NWS and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA) encourage Ohioans to have a safety plan not only for severe thunderstorms, but also for all weather events.

Make listening or reading weather reports a part of planning your day. If the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms, you may need to postpone your trip or outdoor activity.
“When thunder roars, go indoors!” Stop outdoor activities and seek a safe, enclosed shelter immediately.
Remember the 30-30 Rule. After seeing lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before reaching 30, go indoors. Suspend outdoor activities for at least 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
If shelter is not available, crouch down low, with as little of your body touching the ground as possible. Lighting can cause electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly up to, and exceeding, 100 feet away.
Avoid concrete floors and walls. Lightning can travel through metal wires or bars that may be embedded in concrete.
Prepare Before the Storm

Know your area’s risk for thunder and lightning. Spring and summer are typical seasons for thunderstorms, but they can occur year-round, day or night.
Sign up for your local emergency notification system or download a weather app. The Emergency Alert System and NOAA Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
Cut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling onto your home.
Consider buying surge protectors, a lightning protection system, or lightning rods to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.
Survive During the Storm

When you hear thunder or see lightning, move to safe shelter immediately, such as a substantial building, or a metal-topped vehicle (not a convertible), with the windows rolled up.
Pay attention to weather reports and thunderstorm warnings.
Get out and away from bodies of water. If boating, fishing or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.
If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and telephone lines.
Never drive or walk through flooded roadways. Turn Around Don’t Drown ®. It takes just six inches of fast-moving water to knock an adult down, and about 12 inches of moving water can sweep away most vehicles.
Be Safe After the Storm

Listen to local authorities and weather forecasts for storm watches or warnings or for any instructions regarding potential flash flooding.
Wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder before resuming outdoor activities.
Watch for fallen power lines or broken tree limbs. Report hazards immediately.
For additional information on lightning safety, follow OCSWA on Facebook and Twitter.

# # #

ABOUT OCSWA: OCSWA is comprised of 16 agencies and organizations that are dedicated in teaching Ohioans severe weather safety and preparedness.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Jun 17, 2020 7:28 am

Health Department shares food safety advice

During the weekly Highland County COVID-19 update, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner shared information on food safety during power outages.

“We operate with a 41-degree temperature goal, so everything you store in your refrigerator needs to be 41 degrees or lower,” he said. “If it goes out of temperature, you have a four-hour period to bring it back down and to get it back in the right temperature range before we start worrying about bacterial growth and if that food will make you sick.”

Warner recommended that everyone keep a thermometer in their refrigerator or freezer to accurately keep track of the temperature inside the units.

“If you do have a power outage, it’s really important that you keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed,” he said. “Your refrigerator should last at least four hours, and maintain its current temperature for four hours, without power. If you have a full freezer, you’re looking at 48 hours before you start to have food that goes above that 41-degree mark. If you’re freezer’s about half-full, the rule of thumb is about 24 hours.”

Warner also said that some “common sense” advice is not to “taste your food and use that as a way to determine whether it’s safe to eat.”

“If you have any questions, throw it out,” Warner said. “You cannot rely on the taste of food to tell you whether it’s safe or not.”

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Jun 15, 2020 10:23 am

NWS confirms straight-line winds in area

The National Weather Service released an update Thursday night confirming “non-tornadic” straight-line wind damage in Highland, Clinton and Fayette counties as well as a tornado in Ross County.

The following information is courtesy of the NWS.

With assistance and support from the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency, the Fayette County Emergency Management Agency and the Highland County Emergency Management Agency, a National Weather Service damage survey across portions of the three counties revealed that straight-line winds were responsible for the large amounts of tree and minor structural damage.

Specifically, the survey focused along Careytown Road near Leesburg in Clinton County. Here, tree damage was found to be non-tornadic in nature and estimated near 70 mph.

In Highland County, a large amount of tree damage and minor structural damage was surveyed, particularly near Danville, the City of Hillsboro and on Miller Lane near New Market. All of this damage was considered to be non-tornadic in nature and estimated between 70 and 80 mph.

In Fayette County, the location of a large dust cloud that was captured on video near the intersection of Highway 22 and Jamison Road was surveyed with no damage found.

In these counties and in many others on June 10, large dust swirls were captured and reported as possible tornadoes on the leading edge of strong to severe thunderstorms. These phenomena, colloquially known as “gustnadoes,” are shallow, short-lived and generally very weak vertically oriented vortices that are often found along the leading edge of strong thunderstorm gust fronts.

In the spring and early summer when fields are fresh-planted and dry, large amounts of dust are lifted by these “gustnadoes” with a remarkably similar appearance as tornadoes. These “gustnadoes” are not typically connected to the cloud base, whereas tornadoes are.

A tornado was confirmed in Ross County at approximately 6:18 p.m. Wednesday, starting six miles northwest of Chillicothe and ending seven miles north of Chillicothe.

The tornado is estimated at a maximum wind speed of 75 mph, with a maximum path width of 300 yards and path length of 5.9 miles.

The National Weather Service damage survey found evidence of a weak EF0 tornado, which initially touched down on the south side of Highway 550, where several barns were heavily damaged with roofing material thrown across Highway 550 into adjacent properties about a quarter mile downstream.

From there, a consistent swath of enhanced tree damage was found along a nearly six-mile continuous path across U.S. Highway 35, Country Road 125 (Union Lane), Egypt Pike, state Route 207 and state Route 104, with the enhanced swath of damage not found on the east side of the Scioto River. It is expected that the tornado lifted somewhere in the Scioto Flood Plain.

This tornado may not have been in constant contact with the ground over the entire length of the path and was also clearly embedded within a much larger two- to three-mile wide swath of enhanced straight line damage. Despite this, enough indication of a tornado was seen in the debris with lifted roof panels from a few barns and outbuildings, as well as convergent fall patterns to the large number of trees that were taken down along portions of the path.

Damage was consistent with wind speeds up to 75 mph.

The National Weather Service would like to thank the Ross County Emergency Management Agency for assistance and support in this survey.

The information in this statement is preliminary and subject to change pending final review.

Earlier updates by The Highland County Press are below.

• • •

As of Thursday morning, AEP is still reporting thousands of power outages across Ohio, and the National Weather Service has released preliminary reports on Wednesday evening’s storms.

“On June 10, severe thunderstorms caused widespread damage across a majority of the Ohio Valley,” the National Weather Service reported. “The National Weather Service in Wilmington has received numerous reports of damage from these storms.

“Much of this damage appears to be a result of straight-line winds; however, it is possible that a few brief tornadoes may have occurred. At this time, we plan to conduct surveys across Clinton, Highland, Pickaway and Ross counties in Ohio. We will continue to work with our emergency management partners to evaluate storm damage.”

Early reports by the NWS show:

• Estimated 61 mph winds in Hillsboro;

• Several large trees downed along SR 124 in Hillsboro;

• Siding removed from a home, roof damage and several trees snapped on Miller Lane in Hillsboro;

• A trailer rolled onto its roof in East Danville;

• Large tree limbs down in Samantha;

• Numerous downed trees in Leesburg; and

• A large tree down at Route 28 and Careytown Road in New Vienna.

The AEP Ohio Facebook reported Wednesday night that as of “At 9 p.m., about 80,000 customers are without power as a fast-moving, strong storm continues to cross Ohio, breaking poles and taking down trees and power lines.”

“Customers should plan for a several-day restoration effort,” AEP said.

On Thursday morning, AEP said that they would be updating estimated restoration times for those still without power, as they had restored electricity to approximately half of the customers who reported outages.

As of noon Thursday, South Central Power said that 175 customers in Highland County are still without power, with electricity restored to 1,900 customers.

The original story from Wednesday night follows.

• • •

High winds during a storm that passed through Highland County early Wednesday evening caused several area power outages.

Numerous downed trees have been reported, causing damage to buildings and power lines.

Hillsboro, Leesburg and Sabina were placed under a tornado warning from 5:44 p.m. until 6:15 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Other parts of Highland County and the surrounding area were also under a thunderstorm warning. The NWS has not yet indicated the extent of the storm in Highland County.

As of 8:20 p.m., AEP Ohio shows 2,220 outages in Hillsboro, along with scattered outages in the rest of the county. South Central Power’s website shows 1,010 customers in Highland County are without power and 1,800 buildings have been restored.

The Highland County Press
Friday, June 12, 2020

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Jun 15, 2020 10:21 am

Highland Amateur Radio Association holds Christmas dinner, elections

More than 80 amateur radio operators and guests journeyed to Hillsboro this week to attend the 45th annual Highland Amateur Radio Association’s Christmas dinner, member recognitions and elections held at the Hillsboro Methodist Church.

Following a delicious meal served by Avery Elliott of the Frog and Club, HARA Information Officer John Levo introduced the evening’s speakers. American Radio Relay League Ohio Section Manager Scott Yonally delivered the keynote address, where he praised the club for being one of Ohio’s premier amateur radio clubs.

He stated there are about 120 known clubs in Ohio, and HARA is among the top 10 percent. He noted the club’s involvement and service in the community is causing a renewed interest in the service, people getting licensed and joining the club. He also noted HARA’s membership is nearing 150, and that is unusual for a rural community not near a metropolitan area. Yonally then detailed the benefits an amateur can receive through a membership in the national American Radio Relay League.

Following Yonally’s comments, ARRL Great Lakes Vice Director Tom Delaney echoed Yonally’s praise of the club.

“HARA must have some kind of magic dust because you are active and doing everything right," Delaney said. "Therefore, people want to be associated with you is why you have grown and prospered” was his takeaway.

Besides recognizing individual members for their contributions to club activities and events during the year, a number of “Friends of HARA” were awarded certificates of appreciation for their support of the organization. They were: Highland County EMA Director Dave Bushelman, The Highland County Press, Avery Elliott, Mark and Missy Spradlin, Tom Delaney, Scott Yonally, the Portsmouth Radio Club, the Grant Amateur Radio Club and the Clinton County Amateur Radio Association.

Highland ARA Net Manager Pat Hagen presented retiring net manager Teddy Ruble with a plaque expressing the club’s appreciation for his many years serving as net manager.

Election results were announced with Jeff Collins to serve as president for 2020. Pat Hagen was elected vice president and Kathy Levo will return as the secretary-treasurer. Richie Hagen will join Patrick Gilfillen and Steve Lamb as trustees. 2019 acting president Randy McNeil will become a trustee. Buddy Holcomb was recognized for his service to the club during his term as a trustee.

President-elect Collins reminded all of the need for help on Saturday afternoon at the fairgrounds to assist with communications and lining up floats and other units for the annual Hillsboro Holiday Parade. He commented this is HARA’s oldest local amateur radio community service project and even proceeds the founding of the association. He also announced HARA will offer a class leading to an amateur radio license in early 2020. An introduction is planned for Jan. 19 with actual instruction starting on Feb. 9. More information may be obtained by contacting HARA’s Information Officer John Levo, 937-393-4951 or at

The evening concluded with the exchange of gifts, a raffle drawing and the awarding of door prizes. A special drawing for antenna books donated by the ARRL was made for newly licensed hams.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Dec 16, 2019 10:22 am

Local Tower Improvements Will Improve Emergency Communications

Local Tower Improvements Will Improve Emergency Communications

A collaboration between two local businesses and a group of licensed local amateur radio operators recently assisted the Highland County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) to add an additional tower section to an existing tower, install a new antenna feedline and place a new dual band radio amateur radio antenna to improve communications. EMA Director David Bushelman advised that these upgrades will result in better coverage to all areas of the county, even with low powered hand-held radios in the hilly areas.
Highland Amateur Radio Association Information Officer John Levo advised that too often natural disasters and/or emergencies render cell, telephone, broadcast and the Internet to either overload or fail due to infrastructure, equipment or other communication related issues. In such cases, the Federal Communications Commission requests amateurs to offer their services and personal equipment to local and state governmental agencies to provide much needed communication assistance when they safely can do so.
Tom Archibald is a federally licensed amateur radio operator and serves as the county’s assistant amateur radio emergency coordinator, as well as, recently appointed to the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Archibald stated that the State of Ohio strongly urges local governments to reach out to the amateur radio community and develop relationships where local amateurs to provide advanced communications and support to local agencies in the event of a local, regional or national disaster or emergency. In some areas of Ohio these units become certified by the Amateur Radio Emergency Services network of amateur radio operators. FEMA provides amateurs with classes to become familiar with government radio operating procedures so that ‘hams’ and government officials “are speaking the same language”.
County Emergency Coordinator Harley Mains commented once another antenna is installed prior to winter, this simple wire antenna will not only provide hams with communications directly into the suburban Columbus State Emergency Center, but it will serve as a gateway to various FEMA, military, National Weather Service and other federal agency and civilian response centers around the United States.
Besides thanking the amateurs who assisted, Director Bushelman would like to thank Barry Stratton and Bruce Davis of S and S Electrical Contractors for the tower and ground support work, Amateur radio operator Chris Campton for assisting with the on-tower antenna installation and Chad Abbott Signs for providing the truck and equipment to lift and position the new tower section and antenna to the tower top. This project would not have been possible without everyone’s donating their time, services and equipment.
Additional information about the Highland County Emergency Management Agency may be obtained by contacting Director Bushelman at or calling 937-393-5880.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Sep 24, 2019 9:10 am

September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is recognized annually in September to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning now, and throughout the year. NPM is designed to raise awareness and encourage people to prepare themselves for emergencies that could impact their homes, jobs, schools, and communities. Go to Ready.Ohio for more info

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Aug 26, 2019 10:02 am

Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 23-29

Summertime is Peak Time for Thunder and Lightning Storms
Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 23-29

In an annual coordinated effort with the National Weather Service (NWS), the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness is promoting June 23-29 as National Lightning Safety Awareness Week and encourages all Ohioans to know what to do before, during and after thunderstorms, and to practice severe weather safety and preparedness throughout the summer.

Although lightning strikes can occur at any time during the year, summertime is usually peak season for thunder and lightning storms. Since the inception of Lightning Safety Awareness Week, lightning fatalities in the U.S. have dropped from about 50 per year to an average of 30 or less per year. The NWS attributes this reduction to this weather safety campaign and to a greater awareness of lightning danger, and people seeking safe shelter when thunderstorms threaten.

As of Friday June 14, four people have died after being struck by lightning in the United States this year. In 2018, there were 20 lightning fatalities in a total of 10 states; no fatalities in Ohio (NWS 2019 Lightning Fatalities).

There is no safe place outside when thunderstorms are in the area. If you hear thunder, you are likely within striking distance of the storm. Lightning safety is can save your life.

“When thunder roars, go indoors!” Stop outdoor activities and seek safe shelter immediately.
The NWS and the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness encourage Ohioans to prepare for thunder and lightning storms – and all severe weather events.
Thunder & Lightning Safety Information:

• Listen to current weather reports on local TV or radio stations, or use a battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio. Be aware of changing weather conditions. Severe thunderstorms can produce hail, damaging winds and/or tornadoes.
• There is no safe place outside during a thunderstorm.
• If you hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike.
• When you hear thunder, move to safe shelter immediately, such as a substantial building with electricity and/or plumbing, or an enclosed, metal-topped vehicle with the windows rolled up.
• Stay inside a safe building or vehicle for at least 30 minutes after you hear the last sound of thunder.
Indoor Lightning Safety Tips:
• Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that could put you in direct contact with electricity.
• Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets.
• Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
• Do not lie on concrete floors. Do not lean against concrete walls.
Outdoor Risk-Reduction Tips:
• Do not stay on elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks.
• Never lie flat on the ground.
• Never shelter under an isolated tree.
• Do not use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter.
• Avoid being in or near bodies of water such as beaches, swimming pools, ponds or lakes.
• Avoid contact with anything metal – tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, wire fences, golf carts, golf clubs, bicycles, etc.
• If driving during a severe thunderstorm, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency hazard lights until the heavy rain stops. Avoid flooded roadways and bridges – Turn Around Don’t Drown®. Just 12 inches of moving water can sweep away most vehicles.

To minimize the risk of being struck by lightning, just remember “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” and stay indoors until at least 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder or crack of lightning.
For additional information on lightning safety, visit the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness, ReadyOhio, or the NWS site at

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Jun 24, 2019 7:52 am

Ohio tornado damage

National Weather Service storm survey teams continued assessing Ohio tornado damage through the weekend. On May 30, the NWS upgraded the EF3 tornado in Trotwood, Ohio to an EF4. By June 1, the NWS determined that 21 tornadoes ripped through the state of Ohio in a five-hour period, late night May 27 through early morning May 28. Fourteen tornadoes impacted the Miami Valley area. Confirmed Ohio tornadoes:

EF4 – Trotwood, Montgomery Co
EF3 – Beavercreek, Greene Co
EF3 – Celina, Mercer Co
EF2 – S of Vandalia, Montgomery Co
EF2 – near Laurelville, Hocking Co
EF2 – near West Milton, Miami Co
EF2 – NE of Jamestown, Greene Co
EF1 – S of Tarlton, Pickaway Co
EF1 – Roseville, Perry Co
EF1 – New Madison, Darke Co
EF1 – W of Wapakoneta, Auglaize Co
EF1 – Jamestown, Greene Co
EF1 – S of Hollandsburg, Darke Co
EF0 – near Phillipsburg, Miami/Montgomery Cos
EF0 – SE of Circleville, Pickaway Co
EF0 – between Belle Center & Kenton, Hardin Co
EF0 – Waynesfield, Auglaize Co
EF0 – NW of Zaleski, Vinton Co
EF0 – S of Troy, Miami Co
EF0 – Elizabeth Twp, Miami Co
EF0 – Uniopolis, Auglaize Co

Officials continue to emphasize that individuals should not self-deploy.

Montgomery County Volunteer Reception Center: Sinclair Community College, Dayton OH

Miami County Volunteer Reception Center: Concord Township Trustees Building, Troy OH

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Jun 4, 2019 11:19 am

Highland County All Hazard Mitigation Plan Public Meeting

The Highland County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is conducting a five (5) year update to the Highland County All Hazard Mitigation Plan. These Plans are intended to identify hazards that pose a genuine risk to property and life, and to identify solutions which will mitigate the impacts of natural disasters (flooding, high winds, severe winter or summer storms, earthquakes etc.) For a County, or any of its’ local jurisdictions, to qualify for any federal mitigation assistance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires communities to update their Hazard Mitigation Plans every five (5) years. Highland County will be holding a public hearing to review their revised draft Hazard Mitigation Plan on May 6, 2019 beginning at 2:00pm at Highland Co. Admin Bldg., 119 Foraker Pl, Hillsboro OH. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend. The draft report is available to view at For more information, contact Dave Bushelman, EMA Director at or at (937) 393-5880.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Apr 15, 2019 3:28 pm

Remembering the Xenia tornado!

All it took was four minutes 45 years ago Wednesday to change the landscape and the lives of the residents of Xenia when a killer tornado roared through its Arrowhead subdivision and downtown area, eventually killing 33 people and injuring another 1,300 in its more than one-mile wide path.
David Bushelman, director of the Highland County Emergency Management Agency, told The Times-Gazette that he really doesn’t have any clear memories of that day since he was only 9 years old at the time, but did say Highland County is better prepared to deal with an F-5 Xenia-class tornado today than it would’ve been the afternoon of April 3, 1974.
“Our communications systems are better, our infrastructure, as far as handling major disasters like that in the state as a whole, are geared to rapid response,” Bushelman said. “Combine that with the upgrades and improvements with the weather service and I’d say from an emergency management standpoint, we’re more than ready for a tornado of that sort.”
Major weather events such as the Great Flood of 1937, the Thanksgiving Blizzard of 1950, the freezing of the Ohio River in 1977 and the legendary blizzard of 1978 leave an indelible mark on those that went through them, and according to the National Weather Service, the tornado that devastated Xenia was no different.
A series of violent tornadoes now referred to as the “Super Outbreak,” tore a path of death and destruction through Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, and the National Weather Service said it documented 148 tornadoes in 13 states in the eastern United States that day alone. But the most deadly was the F-5 funnel cloud that descended suddenly upon Greene County.
“When severe weather like that starts creeping in, my office goes into the assessment and monitoring stage,” Bushelman said. “We start making preparations to make sure everything is up and running, and stay in close contact with other county EMA directors and the National Weather Service.”
He said his office’s main objective during a crisis situation, be it storm-related, man-made or natural disaster, is to prepare, respond, recover and mitigate. In other words, anticipate what could happen, respond accordingly, and then coordinate aid and assistance in the aftermath.
Kristen Cassady, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, said that even today in the weather community, the April 1974 super outbreak is looked upon with awe, and is often compared with a similar outbreak that occurred in the Deep South on April 27, 2011.
“Those violent tornados that day thankfully didn’t quite reach up here,” she said. “That’s the only other day that rivals the April 1974 outbreak. In fact, there were tornado watches that day in 2011 that stretched from upstate New York all the way down to the Gulf Coast.”
She said one of the things that enables the weather service to better forecast severe weather is the advances in radar technology, which is superior to what existed in 1974, such as next generation Doppler radio deployed at major airports that allows detection of low altitude storm activity. She said it can show the presence of a tornado before it even touches the ground.
“What was in use back then we referred to as WSR-57 radar, which meant ‘weather service radar’ and the year it came out, which was 1957. Later on we had the WSR-74s,” Cassady said. “That was replaced with the WSR-88D, which included Doppler radar and the subsequent upgrades to give us the forecasting capabilities we enjoy today.”
She said communities are more safe today than they were 45 years ago not only due to advances in technology like Doppler radar and computer generated imaging, but also because meteorologists have a better understanding of how weather systems evolve.
“When the storm prediction center issues a thunderstorm outlook across the entire country, today we not only have several hours warning, but also several days that the environment could spawn these tornadic outbreaks,” she said. “Being able to provide that heightened awareness is crucial so now people aren’t just planning for the day of, but can now make plans several days before.”
The faces and the names of the victims of the Xenia tornado have faded from memory over time, but statistics tell their story, according to “Tornado at Xenia,” a tribute publication from 1974 that was sold to benefit recovery efforts.
Of the deaths in Xenia, 12 were children under the age of 16, with the youngest victim being a 4-week-old boy, the oldest an 82-year-old woman, and two were airmen from the Ohio Air National Guard.
In the four short minutes the twister was on the ground in Xenia, the publication noted, 18 of the victims were found in or near piles of rubble where their homes once stood, nine died at their places of employment and five others were killed while enjoying a late afternoon meal at a local restaurant.

Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571 at Times Gazette

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Apr 5, 2019 10:44 am

2019 Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 17-23

Severe Weather Awareness Week is an ideal time to plan and get ready for spring and summer weather hazards that can impact Ohio.

Be Informed. Know Ohio’s spring and summer weather hazards and how to protect your family and home.
Tornado Safety
Flood Safety
Thunder & Lightning Safety
Extreme Heat

Build a Disaster Supplies Kit. Have enough food, water and other supplies to sustain your household for at least three days.

Plan Ahead for Severe Weather.
Know how to receive emergency alerts
Have a shelter-in-place plan
Know evacuation routes
Make a family/household communication plan

Also visit:

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Mar 11, 2019 12:34 pm

What is Frostbite?

What is Frostbite?

You have frostbite when your body tissue freezes. The most susceptible parts of the body are fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of the nose. Symptoms include a loss of feeling in the extremity and a white or pale appearance. Get medical attention immediately for frostbite. The area should be SLOWLY rewarmed using warm, not hot water.

Frostbite First Aid

Get indoors as quickly as possible. Until you can get indoors:
• Don't rub or massage cold body parts.
• Put your hands in your armpits.
• Hold onto another person or animal.
• Drink warm liquids.
• Put on extra layers of clothes, blankets, etc.
• Remove rings, watches and anything other tight jewelry or related items.

Once indoors:
• Don't walk on a frostbitten foot. You could cause more damage.
• Get in a warm, NOT hot, bath and wrap your face and ears in a moist, warm, NOT hot, towel.
• Don't get near a hot stove or heater or use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or a hair dryer. You may burn yourself before feeling returns.
• Frostbitten skin will become red and swollen and feel like it's on fire. You may develop blisters. Don't break the blisters. It could cause scarring and infection.
• If your skin turns blue or gray, is very swollen, blistered or feels hard and numb even under the surface, go to a hospital as soon as possible.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Jan 29, 2019 2:18 pm

HCSO to resume issuing snow emergency levels

For the first time in several years, the Highland County Sheriff’s Office released a snow advisory last weekend, and Sheriff Donnie Barrera said he plans to continue the practice in cases of inclement weather throughout the winter.

“I’ve been contemplating it since I’ve been in office,” Barrera said Monday. “The Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association changed some wording with snow emergency levels that alleviates some of the pressure from us. Employees are now responsible for calling their employer.”

The sheriff said that in the past, people sometimes used an emergency declaration as a reason not to report to work, or would ask the sheriff’s office to call their employer, clogging up the sheriff’s office phone lines. He said that’s why former Sheriff Ron Ward decided to stop the practice several years ago.

There will be three emergency levels, with level three being the most serious. Each of the levels is described below:

• Level One — A snow alert declaration by the county sheriff is designed to advise motorists of hazardous conditions created by ice and blowing and drifting snow. No roadways are closed, although unnecessary travel is discouraged, but if deemed necessary, extreme caution is urged. Generally, snow is accumulating on the roadway with dropping temperatures that may create dangerous road surfaces.

• Level Two — A snow advisory declaration is a Level Two classification advising motorists that all or certain roadways in the county are hazardous with icy spots and blowing and drifting snow causing low visibility. Only persons who deem it necessary to travel should be on the roadways. The county sheriff urges extreme caution. Employees should contact their employer to determine if they should report to work.

• Level Three — A snow emergency is declared when ice and blowing and drifting snow have created extremely hazardous road conditions. Low visibility, extremely low temperatures, and worsening road conditions have caused the closing of all or certain county roadways to all but emergency and essential persons. No one should be on the roadways unless absolutely necessary. Employees should contact their employers to see if they should report to work. All non-emergency and non-essential personnel traveling the roadways during a Level Three snow emergency may be subject to prosecution under Ohio Revised Code section 2917.13 for misconduct at an emergency.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Jan 20, 2019 7:41 am

Updated: Jan 22, 2019 8:02 am

Be Ready for 2019

Bring in the New Year by making emergency preparedness a resolution. If we resolve to be ready then we would be prepared for emergencies and potential disasters.
Are You Ready, Ohio? Here's a list to help you get started:

Make an emergency plan. Choose a safe place to meet up with family members. Update your family communication plan - include an out-of-town contact. Learn evacuation routes.

Update the supplies in your disaster supply kits. Remember to include cash.

Get to know your neighbors and invite them to be a part of your emergency plan.

Set up group text lists so that you can communicate with family & friends during emergencies.

Snap photos of important documents and save them in a secure place or online.

Snap photos of your property for insurance purposes.

Check your insurance coverage for disasters like floods, tornadoes, ice and hail storms.

Take a class in CPR and first aid. American Red Cross

Have back-up power sources available to charge phones & devices in case of a power outage.

Download a weather app to receive severe storm alerts and warnings.

Take a photo of you and your pet together, in case you get separated during a disaster. Consider microchipping your pet.

Build up your savings. Grow an emergency fund: put a small amount (perhaps an extra $10) in your account once or twice a month, beginning in January.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Dec 31, 2018 7:44 am

CodeRED Mobile Alert App

Highland County to Use CodeRED Mobile Alert App to Deliver Emergency Notifications

The Highland County Emergency Management Agency, through an existing contract with OnSolve LLC, will begin January 1, 2019 delivering public safety alerts through the company’s public safety app of choice, the CodeRED Mobile Alert.

The app, which is a free download on the App Store and Google Play, will allow Highland County residents and visitors to receive free emergency, missing person and community alerts via push notifications directly to their iPhone and Android devices. David Bushelman, EMA Director, said the new platform will serve as an additional tool to help inform the community and visitors about important information that may impact their safety. If you have the app downloaded and are in an affected area of the alert, a notification will be sent through the app to alert you of the issue,” Bushelman said.

Residents who have enrolled for the CodeRED system will continue to receive voice calls, text messages and emails. However, the app is designed to keep users safe and informed while on the go. “The app is unique because, for example, if we have a Highland County resident who is traveling to another state that also uses the CodeRED system; they will receive any community or emergency alerts from that specific area while there. It’s just one additional means to stay safe when you’re away from home,” Bushelman said.

In addition to the emergency, community and missing children alerts which are always free to app users, the app also offers subscribers a free, 30-day trial of CodeRED Weather Warning, which alerts users if they are in the direct path of a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood. Users have the ability to select the types of weather notifications they want and to customize the app based on their unique preferences. “With the added weather component, you don’t have to be worried about missing a tornado siren or watching a weather report. The app will alert you immediately after the National Weather Service issues a severe weather warning, no matter the time of day,” Bushelman said.

Residents are encouraged to download the app to begin receiving notifications from Highland County immediately. The app is available for a free download on the App Store and Google Play.

For more information or to download the CodeRED Mobile Alert app, visit

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Dec 10, 2018 8:43 am

Winter Weather

Would you know how to protect yourself, family from a severe winter storm that could consist of blizzard conditions, ice storms or prolonged sub-zero temperatures?

Know the Terms.

A winter storm watch means conditions exist for a severe winter storm to develop. A winter storm watch alerts the public to the potential for heavy snow, significant icing or a combination of these events. Winter storm watches are issued 12 to 48 hours before the beginning of a winter storm. Prepare for the weather event in case conditions worsen. Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local television or radio news station for up-to-date weather information.

A winter storm warning is issued by the National Weather Service when heavy snow or a combination of heavy accumulation of snow, freezing rain, heavy sleet or blowing and drifting snow is expected to occur in your area. Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or local television or radio news station for up-to-date weather information, including school and business delays/closures.

Make a kit. Ensure you have enough supplies for every member of your family to survive on for at least three days. Include winter-specific items such as rock salt to melt ice on walkways, sand to improve traction, snow shovels and other snow removal equipment. Keep a stock of food, extra drinking water, warm clothing, blankets or sleeping bags on hand, as well. Click here for a more complete disaster supplies kit checklist.

Prepare for possible isolation in your home. If your main source of heat is a propane tank, ensure it has fuel before winter sets in. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood if you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Store extra blankets, coats, sweaters, etc. in your family preparedness kit. Keep a fire extinguisher on hand, and ensure that everyone knows how to use it.

Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply. Insulate walls and attics. Caulk and weather-strip windows and doors. Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic.

Listen to weather reports for up-to-date weather information. Invest in a tone-alert NOAA Weather Radio or listen to weather reports from local news stations, cable weather stations or radio.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Oct 24, 2018 7:33 am

First-ever National WEA Test

First-ever National WEA Test

IPAWS National Test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS)

The National EAS and WEA test will be held today, beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) today. The WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 p.m. EDT, and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.

The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA. This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test. Previous EAS national tests were conducted in November 2011, September 2016, and September 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials in recognition of FEMA’s National Preparedness Month.

Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. Some cell phones will not receive the test message, and cell phones should only receive the message once. The WEA test message will have a header that reads "Presidential Alert" and text that says:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.

The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency. The test is made available to EAS participants (i.e., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. The EAS message will include a reference to the WEA test:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”

The test was originally planned for September 20, 2018 but has been postponed until October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Oct 3, 2018 7:55 am

September is National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month (NPM), recognized each September, is designed to raise awareness and encourage everyone to prepare themselves for emergencies that could impact their homes, jobs, schools, and communities. NPM 2018 will focus on planning. Its overarching theme is: Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.

Organize or update your disaster supply kits for your home and vehicles.
Take time to learn life-saving skills. Install smoke, carbon monoxide and natural gas detectors in your home and text them monthly. Know how to turn off utilities, like water and gas. Learn CPR and first aid.
Check your insurance policies and coverage for the hazards that might impact your home or community, such as flooding, tornadoes or home fires.
Consider the costs associated with disasters. Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. Keep a small amount of cash at home. ATMs and credit cards may not work after a disaster when you may need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.
Last year’s devastating hurricanes and this year’s wildfires remind the nation of the importance of preparing for disasters. Households and communities need to be ready, because in the event of a large-scale disaster, it may take days before first responders are able to get to you. So, it is important to be prepared and self-sustaining so that you can help yourself, your family and others in your community.

Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.
Week 1: Sept 1-8 Make and Practice Your Plan
Week 2: Sept 9-15 Learn Life-Saving Skills
Week 3: Sept 16-22 Check Your Insurance Coverage
Week 4: Sept 23-29 Save for an Emergency

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Aug 27, 2018 8:33 am

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 17-23

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week is June 17-23

Most lightning-strike deaths and injuries occur when people are caught outdoors during the afternoons or evenings of summer months. To minimize the risk of being struck by lightning, seek indoor shelter in a safe and sturdy building. Wait 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder before going back outside. for more info.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: May 31, 2018 2:16 pm

Severe Weather Awareness Week is March 18-24

Be prepared for all weather hazards during Ohio's Severe Weather Awareness Week

Be Informed. Know the different spring & summer weather hazards that can impact your community.

Build a Disaster Supplies Kit. Have enough food, water and other supplies to sustain your household for at least 3 days.
Plan Ahead for Severe Weather.
Know how to receive emergency alerts.
Have a shelter plan.
Know evacuation routes.
Make a family/household communication plan.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Mar 19, 2018 7:29 am

A Flood Warning means Take Action!

Move to higher ground immediately.
Use extra caution if driving.

Never drive through flooded roadways. Turn Around. Don’t Drown.

Listen to your local TV or radio stations for weather forecasts and updates.

Listen to public safety and emergency management officials for safety and evacuation information.

Author: D. Bushelman - Director
Posted: Feb 22, 2018 7:32 am

Cooler Temps Mean Winter Isn’t Far Away

With temperatures falling, we know that winter – with the snow, ice and freezing rain – is not that far away. Plan ahead! Now is a good time to start winterizing your vehicle.

The Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (OCSWA) and its partners suggest the additional tips to prepare your vehicle for the winter months:

Install winter wipers
Mount winter tires
Keep washer fluid full
Pack a winter safety kit
Service your vehicle regularly
Maintain proper tire pressure
Keep the gas tank at least half full
Clean all debris from your vehicle
Keep your rear-window defroster in working order

Get a tune-up, to include an oil change and battery checked,

Check your headlights, tail lights and turn signals. Replace foggy, hazy or damaged lens covers to improve visibility.

Check the exhaust – Replace or repair leaks and crimped pipes.

Prepare/replenish winter emergency kits for your vehicles.

Winter Safety Awareness Week is November 12-18

Author: D.Bushelman - Asst. EMA Director
Posted: Oct 26, 2017 9:34 am

Get Involved! Be a Part of Something Larger

There are many ways to get involved – especially before a disaster occurs. Community leaders agree: the formula for ensuring a safer homeland consists of trained volunteers and informed individuals taking action to increase the support of emergency response agencies during disasters.

Especially after the recent disasters of hurricanes and earthquakes, you can receive training in your community now, so that you can be prepared to volunteer and serve in your country.

How can you get started? Contact any of the following:

County EMA Offices
Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) / Ohio CERT
Ohio Citizen Corps
Local American Red Cross Chapters
Volunteer Fire Departments
Ohio VOAD Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters
Get Involved!Visit

Author: D.Bushelman - Asst. EMA Director
Posted: Sep 25, 2017 7:55 am

Make a Plan for Yourself, Family & Friends

Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it’s important to know how you’ll contact each other and reconnect, if separated.

Put together an emergency plan by discussing these questions with your family, friends or household:

1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
2. What is my family/household communication plan?
3. What is my shelter plan?
4. What is my evacuation route?

Consider specific needs in your household. Taylor your plans and supplies to our specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs, like the operation of durable medical equipment. Visit

Author: D.Bushelman - Asst. EMA Director
Posted: Sep 3, 2017 10:38 am

Heat Safety Tips for Pets

Heat Safety Tips from the ASPCAa and National Weather Service:

Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun. Be careful not to over-exercise them. And keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.

Know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor, or even collapse. Animals can suffer from heat stroke. Be mindful of those symptoms, as well.

Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with people who are elderly or overweight or have heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

NEVER leave children, disabled adults or pets in a parked vehicle. Every year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia, which occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. A parked car can go from a safe temperature to dangerously high in just over two minutes. - Pets
Red Cross - Pet Preparedness

Author: D.Bushelman - Asst. EMA Director
Posted: Jul 10, 2017 10:04 am

Basic Flood Safety Tips

Basic Flood Safety Tips
 Turn Around, Don’t Drown!® - If you are driving and have come to a flooded area, turn around and
go the other way. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to drive (or walk) through flooded
 Just 6 inches of moving water can knock over an adult. And 2 feet of rushing water can carry away
most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.
 If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground. Flash floods are the #1
cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.
 If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to
higher ground. If the water is moving, do not leave your car.
 Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can
flood quickly and with little warning.

Author: D.Bushelman - Asst. EMA Director
Posted: Mar 20, 2017 8:45 am

Know the Weather Terms

Know the Weather Terms – Ensure that every member in the household knows the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning. A tornado watch means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes. A tornado warning is issued when a tornado is imminent or occurring. If a tornado warning is issued for your area, do not stop to take photos or shoot video. Seek safe shelter immediately.

During tornado drills or actual tornado warnings, remember to DUCK!
D – Go DOWN to the lowest level, stay away from windows
U – Get UNDER something (such as a basement staircase or heavy table or desk)
C – COVER your head
K – KEEP in shelter until the storm has passed

Author: D.Bushelman - Asst. EMA Director
Posted: Mar 20, 2017 8:44 am


Highland County EMA now has a Instagram account. Follow us at highland_county-ema.

Author: D.Bushelman - Asst. EMA Director
Posted: Jul 11, 2016 12:27 pm

Updated: Jan 9, 2017 9:22 am

Document and Insure your Property!

Your home, your personal belongings, and are business are meaningful and valuable assets. If a disaster strikes, having insurance for your home or business property is the best way to ensure you will have the necessary financial resources to help you repair, rebuild or replace whatever is damaged. Yet, more than half of all the homeowners in the United States do not carry adequate homeowner’s insurance to replace their home and its contents, should a catastrophic loss occur. Now, before a disaster strikes, take the time to:

America’s PrepareAthon!

Complete factsheet:

Author: D.Bushelman - Asst.EMA Director
Posted: May 23, 2016 9:40 am

Build a Disaster Preparedness Kit

Get Ready, Ohio!
Build a Disaster Preparedness Kit

For Disaster Preparedness Kit checklists for your home, vehicle, pets, and more, visit the Ohio Committee for Severe Weather Awareness site at Scroll down to the Severe Weather Preparedness box.

Author: D.Bushelman - Asst.EMA Director
Posted: Feb 9, 2016 7:17 pm