The Duncan Banner
The Stephens County Emergency Management Department is using Google Maps to look at registered storm shelters. In case of severe weather, the department will use the tool to locate people who took refuge in their shelters.
But there’s one drawback.
The only shelters showing up on the Google Maps tool are those that have been registered with the emergency management office. Jimmy Pryor, county emergency management assistant director and flood plains manager, said it’s important to get those underground shelters registered because it could help emergency workers locate people if a tornado does touch down in Stephens County.
“We have about 300 registered,” Pryor said. “We’re getting them all the time.”
The location of the shelters are provided to all fire departments. The shelter locations are touted by longitude and latitude to provide more accurate points on the map. Pryor said street addresses may not help much if a tornado does touch down because streets may be difficult to find.
The Google Map is broken down by fire districts. Pryor said each fire department can select its district tab to show what shelters are in its district.
Aside from the shelter locations, the map also show industrial reports for companies in Stephens County. These reports show what type of chemicals are handled by each industry, whether its oil or batteries.
“We have close to 1,200 industrial reports,” Pryor said. “We one from each company every year.”
Gary Ball, Stephens County emergency management director, said 300 shelters is only a small segment of the Stephens County community with emergency shelters.
“There’s still a lot of shelters we haven’t gotten registered,” Ball said.
Pryor said getting those shelters registered would be helpful for the county emergency management office and emergency workers who would more effectively provide help with the additional information.
“What people can do to help us is get their safe rooms registered,” Pryor said.
People can register their emergency shelters online at stephenscountyok.com and clicking on the emergency management tab. Registration forms can also be picked up at the emergency management office in the Stephens County Courthouse.
Ball said getting the shelters registered is important, and if people call the office, forms can be mailed to them. The office number is 580-255-3411.