National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
People of Weather–Ready Nation: Debra A. Walters

NOAA’s Weather–Ready Nation initiative is about building community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather and water events.

In People of Weather–Ready Nation, we sit down with some of the people responsible for building a Weather­Ready Nation. We recently talked to Debra A. Walters, Director of the Code Red Emergency Response Team at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Florence, SC.

1. What does a Weather–Ready Nation mean to you?

A weather-ready nation includes individuals and groups who take advantage of the training opportunities around them. None of us need to sit idly by as severe weather events happen; we can actively prepare for and protect against such occurrences. Severe weather doesn’t always happen in an instant. Many situations can be prepared for and measures can be adopted to protect against, and recover from, the worst of them. NOAA and WRN have the expertise and the tools to help train our nation; it’s up to us to assume the mantle of preparedness and pass that information along to others.

2. How are you helping to build a Weather–Ready Nation?

The Code Red Emergency Response Team conducts quarterly emergency preparedness training with a continuing focus on severe weather events. Our training doesn’t stop there though; we publish a quarterly newsletter article with weather tips, information, and precautions and we take full advantage of NOAA and WRN infographics, charts, and maps as the tools to get the preparedness message out to our parish. We train ourselves, and our fellow parishioners to perform as a cohesive, cooperative community.

3. What is the biggest challenge you see in making the nation ready, responsive, and resilient to extreme events?

We must remember that preparedness begins at the community level. The Code Red Emergency Response Team community is our parish. It’s the several hundred parishioners, our clergy, and our visitors that remind us why we train. There isn’t always time to wait for someone else to help, or in the worst case scenario, to save us. To the best of our ability, we need to prepare to help ourselves. That message must be our clarion call. The challenge then, as we see it, is to guide others to the same level of reliance on, and responsibility for, themselves and their community.


Debra A. Walters is the Director of the Code Red Emergency Response Team at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Florence, SC. The team is staffed with volunteers who serve to protect and secure the members and clergy of the parish. Ms. Walters works at Francis Marion University in South Carolina and plans to use her M.Ed. to train other parishes in emergency management.