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Officials discuss severe weather notification, child care options, during monthly Fort Drum forum

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 3, 2021) – Some parts of the North Country got their first taste of winter weather yesterday, courtesy of a band of lake effect snow. So it was good timing that Fort Drum’s severe weather notification system and reporting procedures were discussed during the Community Information Exchange on Nov. 3 at the Commons.

Rich Hughes, installation emergency manager, said that Fort Drum is well-postured to deal with whatever winter may bring.

“Put your mind at ease; we’re going to be fine and we’ll get through it together,” he said.

Hughes said that community members can help themselves prepare by having emergency supplies at home and in the car, and by staying informed of weather and road conditions. For off-post travel, he recommended downloading the 511NY app or visiting to get real-time route information.

People can call (315) 772-DRUM to hear current road conditions on post and reporting status.

Additionally, community members can stay informed about on-post emergencies through the Alert! notification system. Hughes said that Alert! is mandatory for all service members, but they can also register their family members to receive email, phone and/or text alerts.

“If there is an emergency or information we need to get out, this is the authoritative system we use to disseminate that information,” he said.

When severe weather emergencies occur, Hughes said that there is an informed process to determine what impact it may have on the installation. If there is delayed reporting or the duty day is cancelled, the process begins at 2:15 a.m., and a decision is made by the command group and published no later than 3:45 a.m. During a delayed reporting day, if conditions worsen, a decision to cancel the duty day will be published later than 7:45 a.m.

“If we’re here during the duty day and we see a severe weather event coming later in the day, we may do an early release,” Hughes said. “We would want to get that publicized by 11:30 a.m. so that when people leave for lunch they don’t have to come back in the middle of a storm.”

In addition to receiving these notices by Alert!, community members can stay informed through other platforms.

The home page of the Fort Drum website ( is updated regularly on the installation status to include weather and road conditions (for both cantonment and range). If the road condition is green, that indicates normal driving conditions and the roads are clear and dry. On the other end of the spectrum, if the condition is black, that indicates extremely dangerous driving conditions.

People also can call (315) 772-3786 (DRUM) to listen to current on-post road conditions and reporting status, or visit for updates.

Community members who are not familiar with North Country winters or those looking for helpful readiness tips can register for a Winter Preparation Class, which will be held 1-2 p.m. Nov. 17 through the Relocation Readiness Program. For more information or to register, call the Family Resource Center at (315) 772-6553.

The Command Safety Office provides Winter Driving and Snow Blower Operation classes for Soldiers, family members and DoD civilians, scheduled on select Tuesdays through March. For details, call (315) 772-3022.

Wendy O’Sullivan, Fort Drum school liaison officer, said that parents should anticipate school closings during winter. They can stay connected to their child’s school through ParentSquare, a notification system between parents/guardians and educators/administrators that is accessible online and through an app.

“It is very important to note that the installation and the school districts can make different calls for delays and closures,” O’Sullivan said. “So it is important to track information from both the installation and your specific school district. Don’t assume that if one school district is delayed or closed it will be the same for yours.”

Family members also can find school cancellations through local media outlets. They should look for the announcement by school district as opposed to the name of the school.

Parents can contact the Fort Drum school liaison officer with questions at (315) 772-3214.

For community members exploring additional child care options, Christine Barton, Fort Drum Child and Youth Services, said that there are currently nine family child care homes offering hourly care. Parents must call the family child care director at (315) 772-2250 for details.

Barton also said six additional family child care homes will be certified and open for care by Dec. 31.

Additionally, the Fairground YMCA in Watertown offers a free Children’s Waiting Room (ages 6 weeks to 11 years) for military families with medical appointments. This provides a safe, nurturing environment for children with up to two hours of supervision. Reservations should be made as far in advance as possible, and this is on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, visit 

The next Community Information Exchange is slated for 10 a.m. Dec. 1 at the Commons. It can be seen via live stream at