NOAA 2001-R249
Contact: Ron Trumbla


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the Department of Commerce, will present the "Mark Trail/NOAA Weather Radio" public service award to 13 year old Sabrina Duckworth of Jasper County, Miss., at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., May 23. She is being honored for her quick response to a
NOAA Weather Radio alert which is credited with saving the lives of family and friends.

Now in its fifth year, the awards program honors individuals, organizations and states that use or provide NOAA Weather Radio receivers and transmitters to save lives and property. Fifteen award recipients will be recognized this year.

On April 14, 1999, Sabrina heard a tone alert and tornado warning on the family's receiver and immediately ran to warn her mother Tanya who then phoned family members, friends and neighbors -- passing on the warning. A tornado destroyed or damaged a number of homes on their street, including Sabrina's and her grandparents. But no deaths or serious injuries were reported.

Tanya Duckworth says,"We've had a NOAA Weather Radio in our house since they first came on the market. Sabrina and her brother have been raised to be alert to the weather and, anytime it goes off, they immediately run to see what is happening."

"While it's impossible to know how many -- it's clear that the early warning, Sabrina's quick reaction and her mother's subsequent telephone calls saved lives," said Bill Proenza, director of the weather service southern region. "This is an example of why we would like to see NOAA Weather Radios become as common as smoke detectors in America's homes."

The Mark Trail awards are named for the nationally syndicated comic strip character which serves as the campaign symbol for the NOAA Weather Radio program. Since 1995, Jack Elrod, writer and illustrator of Mark Trail, and King Features Syndicate have been strong advocates for publicizing severe weather safety through the use of the radios.

Elrod's Mark Trail character has been educating the public about the environment since 1950. He has taught readers to appreciate the beauty of nature while respecting its hazards. In recent years, the strip's education message has included the fact that anyone listening to the Weather Radio has instant access to the same life saving weather reports and emergency information provided to meteorologists and emergency personnel.

NOAA Weather Radios are manufactured under a variety of brand names and are available at most electronics stores.