Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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March 24, 2014

Push on to get shelters listed — It was just about three years ago when efforts first got started to get as many private storm shelters in Garvin County registered as possible.

The reason for that was simple — the potential rescue of residents needing help in the aftermath of a tornado strike.

Now that spring is here and the traditional start to the storm season has arrived, a push is on to get those storm shelters registered.

The effort is led by emergency management officials through the Garvin County commissioners’ office located in the county courthouse in Pauls Valley.

The idea behind the registrations is to have the information available so emergency responders can quickly get to any specific shelter site and offer assistance if needed in the aftermath of a storm passing through the area.

“It let’s us know for sure where the shelters are and how many people we should be looking for after a tornado,” said Bud Ramming, who serves as the county’s emergency management director.

“I would also encourage people who don’t have shelters to still register with us,” he said. “In case a tornado does hit it would assist in the search and rescue of people.”

At the very least Ramming says residents without a shelter should have a plan of what to do for those times when they absolutely need to seek cover from a storm.

“The biggest thing is for people to have a plan of action before storm season and not wait until a storm happens,” he said.

There are plenty of examples from the past.

One of those times was when part of the Bridge Creek area was literally wiped out by a massive tornado a few years ago.

“We couldn’t tell where the roads were much less where the storm shelters were,” Ramming said.

“We need to know where that cellar is so we can go check it out after a storm.”

Once a shelter is registered it will get placed on a map of Garvin County. It’s this map that shows where all the private shelters are located anywhere in the county.

Registration forms are available at the commissioners’ office on the ground floor of the county courthouse in Pauls Valley. For more information call 405-238-2685.

Another focus has been to tighten up the county’s plan for storm spotters, namely with training and communications during a threatening storm.

After last year’s busy storm season an assessment of the plan was done. It found more training for the spotters was needed.

“I depend on my spotters a bunch,” Ramming said, adding most are law enforcement officers and local firefighters.

“There are some people who don’t have the training. There’s a large group this year that are trained and do know what to look for.”

All of it is important because information from spotters here can get to the National Weather Service and can lead to warnings and alerts going out for the area, he added.

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