“Hopefully we will begin installs late summer, early fall. Applications will come out sometime in that time period as well.” — MCN Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Carly Griffith Hotvedt
Emergency Management shares tornado safety tips
OKMULGEE, Okla. — The Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council passed legislation Feb. 25 for a storm shelter program, with a vote of 14-0.
MCN Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Carly Griffith Hotvedt said any Muscogee (Creek) citizen that lives in the tribal jurisdiction can apply for the program.
“However, we do rank on a point preference system. Certain categories that will receive a point preference will include elders of the age of 65 or older, people who live in a rural area, Muscogee (Creek) veterans and people with ambulatory disabilities,” she said.
Hotvedt said the program is limited to homeowners and one per household.
She said they are requesting qualifications from potential storm shelter contractors.
“Of those who submit and we find are qualified, we will extend an invitation to them to submit a proposal,” Hotvedt said.
She anticipates the process to take three-four months.
“Hopefully we will begin installs late summer, early fall. Applications will come out sometime in that time period as well,” Hotvedt said.
ANR received a Council appropriation of $100,000 for the storm shelter program.
She said the full amount of the appropriation will be allocated towards the storm shelters and the installations.
“Based on that amount and what I anticipate the cost of the these shelters themselves plus the install, we should be able to install 20 to 40 shelters . . . until the money runs out,” Hotvedt said.
She said individuals that can show proof of a disability can qualify for an above-ground storm shelter.
Hotvedt said there is also the option of an in-ground storm shelter.
“The in-ground option, by limiting the number of shelters that we are using and the type that we are using, we can be a lot more cost effective as far as what we are able to provide,” she said.
Hotvedt said both options will be the same size for each home.
“Probably on the more compact side just so that we can maximize our utilities, so we can serve as many people as possible,” she said.
Hotvedt said the only additional cost to a citizen would be if they wanted to do independent maintenance on their property.
“The install is handled by the contractor as well as the purchase of the shelter itself, and the Nation will send out an inspector to do the inspection. And once that’s complete we will accept an invoice from the contractor and pay them directly,” she said.
Hotvedt said the citizen is not responsible for handling or paying costs out of pocket for the storm shelter project.
“A full application packet with information will be circulated before we are ready to start ranking those applications. And there will be full information on what documents are needed, how to apply, what the policies are and what the point preference system looks like . . . we’d like to aim for as much transparency through this as possible,” she said.
Hotvedt said they are excited to start the program and hope to see citizens applying for the program.
MCN Emergency Management Supervisor James Nichols talked about what to do during a tornado warning.
“If you have a storm shelter or an in ground cellar, obviously that’s the best place to be, there’s a lot of people that don’t,” he said.
He said for those that do not have a storm shelter or an in-ground cellar, the best thing to do is to take shelter at the center most part of a house and to avoid windows.
Nichols said an extra safety measure for children is to have them wear a helmet.
“We really recommend people to stay put rather than trying to get out of your home and outrun a storm in a vehicle. Especially in areas where you can’t see the storm, which is a big part of Oklahoma,” he said.
Nichols said in Oklahoma tornadoes can appear any time.
“Spring time is our biggest, starting now the middle of March. We normally say March, April, May, but Oklahoma has been notorious for producing tornadoes even in November,” he said.
Nichols said during tornado season it is important to have a safety plan prepared.
“Whether it be while you are at home, if you’re at work, whether you’re on the road driving somewhere just have that plan in place,” he said.
Nichols said all of the MCN buildings have designated areas to go to if a tornado alarm goes off.
“Whether it be a safe room or storm shelter or again one of the center most parts,” he said.
Nichols said the MCN Risk Management Office and Emergency Management Office are working on a project to try to get storm shelters for buildings that do not have shelters.
“Hopefully that will happen, we’re working with the administration and the planning team to make sure that we have the areas to do those,” he said.
Nichols said they are discussing building larger shelters that would accommodate several MCN buildings.
He said the weather channels are already talking about storms for March 24.
Nichols said there might be a potential tornado outbreak.
“When the news stations start talking about [tornadoes], that’s when peoples’ ears need to perk up and they need to be listening,” he said.
Nichols said a weather app or a weather radio can help warn citizens of tornadoes.2 comments