The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has honored Magoffin County Judge-Executive Charles “Doc” Hardin and Emergency Management Director Mike Wilson with the StormReady Community Hero award for their efforts to save lives during a tornado that hit Salyersville on March 2.
Officials with NOAA’s National Weather Service office in Jackson were on hand Tuesday when the award was given to Hardin and Wilson during a called meeting of the fiscal court at the Magoffin County Courthouse.
The award honors individuals within a StormReady community who have gone above and beyond protocol to save lives and property. Hardin was praised for his efforts to deliver warnings of the approaching tornado along busy U.S. 460.
Wilson was honored for his supervision of emergency personnel during the tornado. Coordination of information between the two officials is credited for directly saving at least 50 from injury and possible death.
Eighteen tornadoes touched down in Kentucky on March 2, killing 24 and injuring more than 200. One of the strongest and longest-tracked tornadoes on that day slammed into Salyersville. The EF-3 tornado, packing winds of up to 160 mph, tore a path up to three-fourths of a mile wide through the town and across the county. There were no fatalities and only 30 injuries.
Shawn Harley, the meteorologist in charge of the NWS’ forecast office in Jackson, presented the awards. Harley worked with county and state officials to qualify Magoffin County as StormReady in December 2005.
“We feel great compassion for all the people of eastern Kentucky who lost homes to the destructive tornadoes of March 2, 2012,” Harley said. “Yet, the devastation could have been much worse if not for the prompt and heroic action of Doc Hardin and Mike Wilson, who undoubtedly saved lives that day. These people are the epitome of StormReady Community Heroes.”
The nationwide community preparedness program, founded in 1999, is a grassroots approach to preparing for natural hazards. Today, more than 1,900 U.S. communities, including 55 in Kentucky, are better prepared for severe weather through the StormReady program. The program helps community leaders strengthen their hazardous weather operations by improving communication systems and through public education.
NOAA’s NWS is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The agency operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.