Contact: Pat Slattery
NOAA News Releases 2005
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NOAA’s National Weather Service today presented a special award to Bob Parsons, owner of Parsons Manufacturing. The presentation took place on the one-year anniversary of the tornado that destroyed the manufacturing plant, but left 150 people unscathed. The National Weather Service is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Parsons’ employees and site visitors took shelter in three steel-reinforced concrete bathrooms minutes before an F4 tornado (with winds of 207 to 260 mph) hit the plant with full force, mixing vehicles in the parking lot with heavy machinery in the plant, turning the site into a mangled mass of metal and building material. While the powerful tornado left almost total destruction behind, there were no injuries to those in the shelters.

Dennis McCarthy, director of the National Weather Service’s Office of Climate, Weather and Water Services, presented Parsons with the National Weather Service StormReady Community Hero Award. Parsons is only the second person to receive the award, which was created following the Veterans Day weekend tornado outbreak of 2002.

“When his new manufacturing plant was being built more than 30 years ago, Bob Parsons knew the area was susceptible to severe weather," said McCarthy. "Putting his employees’ safety before everything else, he had steel-reinforced concrete storm shelters added to the plant’s design. If not for that prophetic – and somewhat expensive – action, we’d be commemorating a significantly different type of anniversary today. Bob Parsons sets an example of employee protection other business owners should try to match,” he said.

Chris Miller, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Lincoln, Ill., said Parsons’ severe weather plan has been studied and adopted by numerous businesses and manufacturers in the past 12 months.

“July 13, 2004 opened a lot of people’s eyes,” Miller said. “When business owners and others saw the damage done to the building with not a single injury to the people on site, they began adopting plans to protect their employees. Many realized they had pushed their luck far enough and needed to ensure the safety of people who depend on them for work. Bob Parsons’ plan was the perfect guide for keeping those people safe.”

NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s National Weather Service 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.

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