The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

June 30, 2013

People can register their tornado shelters voluntarily

ENID, Okla. — Imagine your home being destroyed by a tornado, but you are safe in your shelter.

Now, imagine being trapped in your shelter because no one knows you are there. It’s a frightening scenario we hope doesn’t play out, but it’s a real possibility in Oklahoma in the heart of Tornado Alley.

Mike Honigsberg, certified director of Enid and Garfield County Emergency Management, has a program whereby people can register their shelters.

That way, in an emergency situation, emergency personnel would know which houses have shelters and which ones don’t.

The program started after the May 3, 1999, tornado devastated Moore.

Honigsberg received a call from Paulene Arens and that sparked him to create Pauline’s Project, an online registry of storm shelters in the county.

It’s completely voluntary, but since it started about 3,000 people have registered their shelters. After the deadly storms in the Oklahoma City area in May, 250 more people registered their shelters.

Actually, though, the list isn’t just for shelters. People can list their homes, even if they don’t have a shelter, and tell what part of the house they taken shelter in during bad weather.

That will give emergency responders an idea of where to search in the event a home is damaged.

Information is kept private, Honigsberg said, and only would be shared with search-and-rescue personnel in an emergency. To register a storm shelter or safe place, go to http://gcem.org/storm-shelter-registration/garfield-county/.

The program is a good one and we would encourage people to take advantage of it.

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