NOAA 2001-R239
Contact: Ron Trumbla


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the
Department of Commerce, presented the 2001 NOAA Environmental Hero Award to members of the Bolivar County, Miss., Emergency Operations Response Team today. Working closely with NOAA's National Weather Service Jackson Forecast Office, EORT members provide vital, life-saving reports to the weather service during severe storms.

Established in 1995 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, the annual Environmental Hero award is presented to individuals and organizations that volunteer their time and energy to help NOAA accomplish its mission of describing, predicting and protecting the nation's environment.

Members of EORT are private citizens who volunteer their time to help the weather service save livesTrained by the weather service in severe storm identification, members position themselves to cover specified areas throughout the county where hazardous weather threatens. Their reports are communicated to the County's Emergency Operations Center through radio and passed on to the weather service.

When two F1 tornadoes moved through Bolivar County in January 1999, the response team provided live reports helping the weather service issue timely updates to the publicDespite significant damage, no one was seriously injured or killedThe team's efforts also helped save lives in February when an F2 tornado swept through the county.

"I have used Bolivar County many times in my spotter training classes as a model of how a spotter organization should work," said Jim Butch, warning coordination meteorologist for NOAA's weather service office in Jackson.

Bolivar County Emergency Management Director, Kent Buckley said, "The combination of timely NOAA National Weather Service warnings, good spotter reports, and public education by the emergency management community and the weather service is saving lives in Mississippi."

NOAA is honoring 27 Environmental Heroes nationwide this yearEach recipient or organization receives a certificate recognizing their contributions and a letter of commendation from Scott Gudes, NOAA's acting administrator.

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