Two years after stage collapse, State Fair ready for potential severe weather

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After five days of the Indiana State Fair, the staff is gearing up for a potential storm–the first of this year’s event.

Since the deadly stage collapse two years ago, the Indiana State Fair says it is prepared for any severe weather situation. Its response stems from the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan developed in August 2011 after the accident in the grandstands that killed seven people and seriously injured dozens.

“We think we’re ready for just about anything,” said Andy Klotz, an Indiana State Fair spokesman.

Fair staff put new policies into practice during three storms last year. Now, its Public Security Center will not only have Indiana State Police, Indianapolis Fire Department and EMS together in one hub, they’ve also added a 24-hour meteorology team.

“They give us up-to-minute readings on when there is any kind of weather that’s 30 miles out or 10 miles out so we can response accordingly,” said Klotz. “They tell us exactly what is coming and they’re right next to the chief operating officer and chief security officer to be able to implement whatever plan we need to put in place.”

Fair leaders have also added an additional 12 speakers so emergency alerts can be heard through nearly 1,000,000 square feet of space. Those alerts are also sent through an elaborate text messaging system for all volunteers, vendors and staff.

For fair-goers who make it a family tradition, those extra eyes in the skies are a big relief.

“(I’ll feel more comfortable having) professionals already here and paying attention, especially with our kids down here,” said Ladonna Hughes, who brought her family to the fair.