Area residents urged to prepare for storms

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Barry County residents are primarily left to their own devices when it comes to seeking shelter from se-vere storms.

According to David Compton, director of the Barry County Office of Emergency Management, the county doesn't have any Federal Emergency Man-agement Agency (FEMA)-rated shelters available to the public.

"Cassville School is in the process of building a shelter," Compton said, "and a shelter is planned for Marshall Hill in Monett.

"There really aren't any community refuge cen-ters," Compton continued. "There are none in Cassville, and Purdy is hav-ing similar issues, as well. Churches are reluctant to open to the public because of liability issues.

"Our solution is to have residents plan ahead and determine the best available place to shelter," Compton said. "That may mean evacuating a mobile home to shelter in a neigh-bor's basement, or check-ing to see if their church is open in the event of a tor-nado."

Compton said it espe-cially important for people living in manufactured homes to seek alternative shelter locations.

"A neighbor's base-ment is much safer than a mobile home," Compton said. "We recommend they identify a place they can reach within five minutes that is open and the safest available place to shelter.

"Those circumstances change for every person," Compton continued. "Area residents need to pre-plan their evacuation protocols."

Compton said hospitals are not open to the general public in the event of se-vere storms.

"Hospital personnel must have a safe place to evacuate their patients to, and they can't do that if members of the public are in there," Compton said. "There are also other con-siderations about keeping patients segregated from community members to prevent spread of infection or illness."

Many Barry County residents may choose to shelter in place, seeking the safest area of their home to take refuge from a tornado or severe storm.

Compton recommends residents choose a room in advance for the designated shelter area.

"The best room is one with as few windows and doors as possible," Compton said. "Residents should draw up water or shelter near a water source, such as a master bedroom that is connected to a bath-room."

If the emergency hap-pens when family members are at work or school, dis-cuss with officials their plans are for sheltering-in-place.

"It is especially impor-tant that residents develop a family emergency plan so that every family member knows what to do," Compton said. "Assemble an emergency supply kit that includes emergency water and food supplies that will maintain each member of the family for at least 72 hours."

For more information about sheltering-in-place, visit www.emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/shelter and for information on developing an emergency supply kit visit www.emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/kit/disasters.

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