PORT ALLEN — West Baton Rouge Parish has joined 12 other parishes across Louisiana in achieving National Weather Service StormReady program certification.

Ken Graham, meteorologist-in-charge of the weather service’s forecast office in Slidell, presented parish officials with a recognition letter and special StormReady signs during Thursday’s Parish Council meeting.

“StormReady encourages communities to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations and public awareness in partnership with their local NWS office,” Graham said.

According to a National Weather Service news release, StormReady is a nationwide community preparedness program that uses a grassroots approach to help communities develop plans to handle local severe weather and flooding threats.

The program is voluntary and provides communities with clear-cut advice from the local NWS forecast office and state and local emergency managers.

“We’re no stranger to disaster here in Louisiana,” Graham said. “We get it all here. We’re second in the nation when it comes to lightning strikes. It’s absolutely critical that we be prepared.”

The program began in 1999 with seven communities in the Tulsa, Okla., area, according to the release. Today, there are more than 1,800 StormReady communities. The StormReady recognition will expire in three years, Graham added.

Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot praised the work of parish Emergency Preparedness Director Deano Moran and his staff in preparing for and handling disaster situations.

Other matters the council considered included:

HALLOWEEN HOURS: The council set Halloween trick-or-treating hours in unincorporated areas of the parish from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31.