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December 4, 2013

Community prepares for inclement weather

DUNCAN — Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. This is the thought process being yielded by the Stephens County, the City of Duncan and Duncan Public Schools as they prepare for possible inclement weather.

According to the Weather Channel website, temperatures in Duncan and surrounding communities will be dropping around and below freezing with about a 50 percent chance of freezing rain. There’s also a 60 percent chance of snow and temperatures below freezing Friday.

Gary Ball, Stephens County Emergency Management director, said the county started preparing for winter weather Tuesday. The preparations included setting up a Red Cross trailer with bedding at the Stephens County Fair & Expo Center. The fairgrounds were used as an emergency shelter during the 2010 ice storms.

The county also ran the generators to make sure they were working properly. Ball said the fairgrounds will be used as an emergency shelter if weather gets bad and people are without electricity for prolonged periods of time, similar to 2010.

“We have everything pretty well staged,” Ball said. “Hopefully we won’t need it. It was a nightmare in 2010. But we’ll have it there if we need it.”

The City of Duncan started its day Tuesday by having a meeting among emergency departments, namely the Duncan Police Department and the Duncan Fire Department. City Manager Jim Frieda said the meeting focused on what items would need to be addressed in an emergency situation.

A generator was fired up to see if it could handle significant business traffic. All the Street Department trucks were fueled. Sand was ready to go in case it needed to be spread on icy roadways.

Frieda said each department has people on standby by. The Electric Department has equipment ready to go in case of power outage or downed power lines.

“There were concerns of water distribution and sewage in 2010,” he said. “Those have been taken care of. Generators are in place. We’re good to go.”

The city has discussed setting up a location for an emergency shelter. But the shelter is not yet ready, Frieda said. The city has a switch on order. The switch will allow the city to go from its power source to a generator if needed.

For the time being, the switch is hindering the city from housing people in an emergency situation.

“As of this week, we don’t have the capabilities,” Frieda said. “In two weeks, we will.”

The Duncan School District is also preparing for winter weather by preparing its inclement weather calling tree. If weather causes the cancellation of school, the calling tree gets word to all faculty and staff members.

J.D. Taylor, Duncan Public Schools technology, is in charge of notifying various media outlets to spread the word to students. Taylor said school is usually canceled by 5:45 a.m.

“They get out at 4 or 5 in the morning with a bus,” Taylor said. “If the bus is having trouble, cars probably will, too. The superintendent (Sherry Labyer) or the transportation director (Steve Cordell) make the call.”

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