The Norman Transcript

Editorials

April 11, 2013

City’s shelters may be shut for storm safety

NORMAN — The late winter storm this week came almost a year to the day after a tornado raked through parts of Norman. Some forecasters were predicting tornado-prone conditions Tuesday and Wednesday, sending some Norman residents to shelters and some locations trotting out signs reminding folks they were not really a shelter.

In February, in anticipation of spring storms, Norman’s fire chief urged residents to consider “sheltering in place” rather than heading out the door to find one of the city’s four designated shelters.

Those shelters — at Whittier, Cleveland, Irving and Little Axe recreation centers — filled to capacity during last year’s April 13 storm. The issue of bringing pets into the shelter also created problems for some. Visitors from other communities headed to Norman, too.

Unless the City Council decides otherwise, this may be the last year that those shelters will remain open. Public safety officials are urging residents to designate a place in their home or business to use as a shelter.

The shelter in place movement comes from the notion that most injuries occur to persons who are out traveling in the storm. Many of them are seeking shelter after leaving their homes or businesses. Oddly enough, if they had stayed in one place, their odds of not being injured or killed dramatically improve.

Norman families are encouraged to develop their own safe places, be it in basements, safe rooms, interior rooms or in a neighbor’s storm shelter. (One neighborhood in Norman recently built its own Safe Room storm shelter).

Families should use this week’s severe weather as a reminder to plan now on the best way to “shelter in place.”

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