Liberty University ‘storm ready,’ opens emergency operations center

The center serves as the Region 3 Coordination Center for the state

LYNCHBURG, Va. – “Ultimately, it’s about saving lives,” National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Phil Hysell said.

Saving lives not just in Lynchburg, but across the region.

That’s what Liberty University’s new emergency operations center set out to do Monday.

“It’s more than just emergencies. It’s that relationship, that commitment blue sky days where we can really engage the community and we can prepare them so we can bounce back faster,” State Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Shawn Talmadge said.

Liberty celebrated becoming a “storm-ready” university. It’s only the fourth university in the Commonwealth to receive the achievement, according to Hysell.

“It makes them a more resilient, responsive and ready university for hazardous weather events,” he said.

And that means helping the community with not only preparedness measures but also during and after major events.

The center serves as Virginia’s Region 3 Coordination Center — which covers Charlottesville, Farmville, Harrisonburg, South Boston, Staunton, Waynesboro, and of course, Lynchburg.

It’s a state partnership Liberty Vice President of Security and Public Safety Marcus Tinsley said goes both ways.

“Just coordination and cooperation across the board. They have actually told us while we were in the building phase of this that they had several incidents they would have loved to have managed here had it been operational,” Tinsley said.

Hysell said that based on previous weather patterns in Central Virginia, this center is critical.

“Whether it’s the flash flooding of 2018, the tornados that occurred in Amherst and Lynchburg in 2018, winter storms from several years ago — this area is really susceptible to weather hazards, so it’s really important that they’re prepared,” he said.

Tinsley said they will continue to improve day after day.

“Are our response times any better? How long has it taken to get a resource to a specific area? And what have we done in the realm of anything from crime prevention to community preparedness to how many people have we trained to act in the event of an emergency,” he said.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.

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