New E.M. director promotes preparednessSevere Weather Awareness Week continues through Friday
WORTHINGTON — Nobles County’s new emergency management director is into her third week on the job, and she’s already had to deal with a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Nobles County’s new emergency management director is into her third week on the job, and she’s already had to deal with a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch. The potential for severe weather Saturday night ushered southwest Minnesotans into the spring storm season, and was a prelude to Severe Weather Awareness Week, which kicked off Monday in Minnesota.
In her new role in the county, Emily Cenzano has been busily preparing information about springtime storms and weather awareness for county employees this week.
“Public awareness is a big thing,” she said. “I’m big on making sure people are aware of what’s going on — just the public aspect of it.”
A native of Windom, Cenzano spent the past three and a half years as an administrative secretary to the Emergency Management Director in Scott County. She was based in Shakopee.
Cenzano graduated from North Dakota State University in 2004 with bachelor’s degrees in emergency management and sociology. She also earned a minor in community development. That year, she was one of just three NDSU graduates to earn her bachelor’s in emergency management, as the program was developed while she was attending the college. She stayed at NDSU to pursue her master’s degree in emergency management.
“As part of that, I went to Florida during the hurricane season of 2004,” she said. “We went down there expecting to experience one hurricane, and they just kept coming.”
Cenzano volunteered to stay there to help and ended up working with local officials through hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne and their aftermath. She finally returned to Minnesota a day before Thanksgiving.
After she returned, she decided to broaden her scope and transferred to Metropolitan State University in St. Paul for her master’s in public administration. She has one class to complete before earning her degree.
Prior to her job in Shakopee, Cenzano was a government contractor for Science Applications International Corp., handling the integrated emergency management program for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga.
Cenzano now lives in Windom with her husband, Philip, and sons Keegan, 4½, and Ryker, 5 months. Her position as emergency management director with Nobles County is three-fifths time, and she has office hours from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. She is also on-call 24-hours in the event of an emergency.
Statewide Tornado Drill
Throughout this week, the National Weather Service is highlighting severe weather and preparedness, with daily focuses on subjects ranging from weather watches and warnings to thunderstorms, hail, lightning, flash floods and heat waves.
On Thursday, Nobles County is participating in the statewide tornado drill at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m. At these times, tornado sirens will sound in communities across the county. Cenzano encourages people to use the drill as a time to practice in their home or workplace.
“The biggest thing that we’ve stressed is that you can’t rely on the sirens (while at home),” she said. “People don’t hear the sirens inside. The sirens are meant to warn the people that are outside. If you’re at home, the best way to be prepared is to have a weather radio programmed to your area.”
She also encourages tuning into local television and radio for weather updates when severe weather is in the area.
This year’s Severe Weather Awareness Week focus is “Anytime, Anywhere,” she said, adding that the key message she wants to get out to people is to be prepared.
“The government is there to assist, but disasters, they say, are first contained locally,” said Cenzano. “A smaller county can become overwhelmed very quickly, so citizens need to rely on themselves first.”