Coronavirus Prompts Cities, Residents to Rethink Use of Storm Shelters

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A tornado over the plains of Oklahoma.

A tornado over the plains of Oklahoma. (Jim Kurdzo/University of Oklahoma)

March 19, 2020

When tornadoes and severe storms threaten communities in Oklahoma this spring, residents may find their public storm shelters are not open.

They may also find they’re less willing to hurry to their neighbors’ house to protect themselves by crowding into their underground shelter.

“The Covid-19 pandemic arrived just as we are entering into our primary storm season,” said Keli Cain, public information manager at the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management.

Federal and state public health officials recommend people avoid gathering in groups larger than 10 to slow the spread of the disease. Local jurisdictions will have to make the call whether to open their public shelters, Cain said.

“Public facilities may be closed. We’re really encouraging people to start thinking about that now,” she said. “This is just March. We still have April, May and June where we have a high frequency of severe weather.”

Continue reading on Oklahoma Watch.


Kathryn McNutt, Oklahoma Watch

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