The Norman Transcript


June 18, 2013

Norman fire chief says public storm facilities don’t offer adequate protection



And while many don’t want to leave their pets at home because they are often considered to be a member of the family, the nation saw just how resilient pets can be during severe weather events.

Some Moore residents’ pets were found in the rubble alive hours, and even days, after the storm. Many animals also were taken to temporary animal shelters where they sat waiting to be reunited with their owner or family.

Another problem with the public seeking shelter during storms is when they show up to places, they think they will be safe.

Some people think they will be safe if they just go to a fire station, but the fire station is typically no safer than your home, Fullingim said.

Some fire stations have safe rooms, but they are only big enough for the five people who are working there. Also, if firefighters are already out responding to calls, the doors will be locked, he said.

Many also may want to go to the closest school to seek shelter, but some schools with shelters — including Alcott and Whittier middle schools — only allow the school children to use it. The general public is not allowed to shelter with the children.

“The best thing to do is to assure a place that is best available for your use,” Fullingim said.

Time is also a factor in seeking shelter. Fullingim said many people wait until outdoor sirens go off to head to a shelter, which doesn’t give them enough time.

“An inherent problem is that they don’t have enough time to get there and they’re not the only ones who had that idea,” he said.

Many saw the problems caused by trying to drive away or trying to drive to a public shelter last month to escape the storm’s path. Massive congestion on the roadways put many at risk and caused loss of life when tornadoes touched down in El Reno and the metro area May 31.

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