An independent review panel from Fox Valley Technical College came to the conclusion Wednesday that Outagamie County officials followed protocols properly during a large storm on August 7. The panel was asked to review the county's response after controversy arose over the way the county handled the storm which had multiple tornadoes and caused more than $30-million of damage in Outagamie County alone.
The early morning storm on August 7th was almost a once in a lifetime event.
"The whole thing went through the county in 25 minutes or less," says Dr. Patricia Robinson, Executive Dean of Public Safety at Fox Valley Technical College. "So, I think speed of the storm was simply extraordinary, middle of the night, therefore people weren't out and about seeing damage, seeing the degree of the winds and so forth."
Those factors, coupled with a lack of National Weather Service issued tornado warnings, the independent review panel from Fox Valley Tech asked to review Outagamie County's response to the storm, believes county officials followed protocol.
"Under the situation with the existing policies and existing infrastructure I think it was handled as well as it could have been. It simply was a very unusual event, very difficult to do much more than was done in the short timeframe that people had to act," said Dr. Robinson.
But there will be changes the next time a storm hits Outagamie County. The review panel issued six recommendations ranging from having a clearer set of criteria for when the outdoor warning system, or tornado sirens are used, to providing more public education on storm preparedness. Outagamie County's Emergency Management director is anxious to adopt the recommendations.
Julie Loeffelholz says, "We have a lot of good ideas that have come from the report and some suggestions on how we can increase our ability to protect the public."