Oklahoma’s Emergency Director Speaks Out

Living in Tornado Alley has its own risks and dangers. The threat of a tornado during the peak summer months can leave residents wondering how to protect themselves. With the cost of a storm shelter being an expense that many cannot afford, how are the residents of the Sooner State supposed to protect themselves when tornado season begins? Director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management Albert Ashwood speaks out about the recent rash of tornadoes in the state and what is being done to address inadequacies highlighted by the loss of 46 lives, seven of them children, during the May 19, 20, and 31 storms, according to http://mooreamerican.com.

What Could Be Done Differently

One primary lesson learned involves providing so-called “safe rooms” within the state’s schools. While state officials have no control over the safety of individuals living within the state, they could look into developing programs to build safe rooms in the more than 1,700 school buildings located across the state. As it stands, the obstacles to making this happen seem insurmountable and would require unprecedented and innovative legislation.

Funding Issues

One of the main roadblocks to improving school safety through the building of safe rooms deals with funding. With an average safe room costing anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million dollars, outfitting every school within the state quickly becomes a problem of finding the proper funds to do so. Funds would need to be appropriated from a variety of sources, including leveraging grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other federal agencies, and private and state funds, or even bonds issued by the schools themselves.

Changes for a Better Future

While Ashwood’s department has been working diligently to improve the safety of Oklahoma’s children, little can be done to ensure the safety of the state’s adult population. With the funding of safe rooms within schools an issue, the possibility of providing the same for all the state’s residents isn't fiscally possible. The next best step involves promoting safety on the part of residents and letting them provide for their own safety. In instances where no viable option exists for shelter, such as apartment buildings or trailer parks, programs need to be developed that provide a place for such residents to go when the weather turns bad.


For more information about the Moore tornadoes and taking preventative measures, visit: http://mooreamerican.com/local/x1912984964/Q-A-with-emergency-director