The people of Portage and Northwest Indiana gladly welcome Spring each year after our harsh winters. The joy and beauty of Spring often brings with it some severe and occasionally deadly weather, often in the form of tornadoes. Each year, the nearly 900 reported tornadoes nationwide take the lives of 50-70 people according to the National Weather Service. Education and technology have helped to lessen the lives lost from these devastating storms and the City of Portage is committed to utilizing both approaches for the safety of our schools, residents and businesses.
The Blackboard Connect system that was implemented in late 2013 has not only been an essential tool in increasing communication with our residents but is especially crucial during dangerous weather. Early warning technology has had one of the most significant impacts on reducing death and injury from severe storms. The system, sponsored by our Redevelopment Commission, can send phone calls, emails, text messages and social media posts out in a matter of minutes with emergency and general information messages. It is set to automatically send out an emergency message when the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning specifically for our area. While the outdoor warning sirens are an important component in resident safety during storms, they are really designed for notifying those outdoors, who are most susceptible to the dangers of an imminent storm. Blackboard Connect is able to reach residents any place and at any time to warn them of potential dangers.
The City has 12,000 recipients in the system, with nearly 10,000 listed numbers provided through Blackboard and 2,000 others that have registered their numbers on our website or at City Hall. We continue to encourage more people to sign up for this free and incredibly useful system. Residents and businesses my sign up or update their contact information on the City of Portage website at www.ci.portage.in.us or by calling or visiting City Hall.
We have also included some important safety tips taken from the National Weather Service and Ready.gov for preparing for tornadoes and other severe storms.