Shawnee County Emergency Management is preparing for the possibility of severe storms in Northeast Kansas, including Shawnee County, Topeka and surrounding towns.
The National Weather Service has indicated the arrival of severe weather will be approximately between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. with more storms possible throughout the night. Rain, straight line winds possibly up to 100 mph and tornados are all possible with this storm.
Several Shawnee County area schools/businesses have agreed to open their doors to serve as Tornado Shelters during the June 5, 2008 severe weather threat. The following facilities will be open at 6:00 p.m. Citizens should be in place by 6:30 p.m.
Residents are encouraged to bring preparedness items for short-term sheltering. Emergency Management will be in contact with each shelter to give weather updates and check on shelter status.
Shawnee Heights Elementary located at 2410 SE Burton and Tecumseh South Elementary located at 3346 SE Tecumseh Rd will be open as Tornado Shelters in the southeast part of the county.
Use the main entrance and CERT Managers will be at the entrances to guide residences to Shelter areas.
Seaman High School located at 4850 NW Rochester will be open in the northern part of the county. Use the main entrance and park in the north parking lot. Shelter CERT Managers will be at the main door to guide residents to the Band Room. The Kansas Expocentre will be open in Central Topeka. Please use the handicap entrance at ground level on the southeast corner.
The Kansas Expocentre is the only facility that will allow pets, however they must be on a leash or in a crate.
In addition the City of Topeka will open all Community Centers and Big Gage Shelter House if and when a tornado impacts Topeka. Please do not attempt to take shelter at the Community Centers or Big Gage Shelter House during the storm as it is very dangerous to be traveling in sever weather.
The Community Centers and Big Gage Shelter House will only be open if a tornado impacts the City of Topeka.
The Emergency Operations Center is currently at Activation Level One. The E.O.C. will continue to monitor sever weather information and provide additional media releases as needed.
Here are some tips from the American Red Cross that pertain to tornados.
· Find safe places in your home/business. Make sure these places are away from windows and tall furniture that could tip over. In your safe place, get under something sturdy, or use a large, hard-cover book to help protect your head and neck from flying or falling objects. Locate safe places outside in case you are not able to go inside.
· Wherever you are, if you hear or see a tornado coming, take cover right away. Tornadoes can move quickly, blowing objects at very high speeds, even if they are a distance away. Protect yourself from flying debris by taking cover immediately.
· If you're in a house or apartment building and a tornado threatens, go to the lowest level--a basement or storm cellar if possible. Once on the lowest level, go to the middle of the building away from windows, into a bathroom or closet if possible. The safest place to be is under the ground, or as low to the ground as possible, and away from all windows. If you have a basement, make it your safe place. If you do not have a basement, consider an interior hallway or room on the lowest floor. Putting as many walls as you can between you and the outside will provide additional protection. Make sure there are no windows or glass doors in your safe place and keep this place uncluttered.
· Get under something sturdy, such as a heavy table, hold on and stay there until the danger has passed. Being under something heavy will help protect you from falling objects. If tornado wind enters the room and the object moves, holding on with one hand will help you move with it, keeping you protected.
· Use your other arm and hand to protect your head and neck from falling or flying objects. Your head and neck are more easily injured than other parts of your body. Protect them as much as you can.
· If you're outside in a car or in a mobile home, go immediately to the basement of a nearby sturdy building. Sturdy buildings are the safest place to be. Tornado winds can blow large objects, including cars, hundreds of feet away. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and can lift up a car or truck and toss it through the air. Never try to out-drive a tornado. Mobile homes are particularly vulnerable. A mobile home can overturn very easily even if precautions have been taken to tie down the unit.
· If there is no building nearby, lie flat in a low spot. Use your arms and hands to protect your head. Tornadoes cause a lot of debris to be blown at very high speeds, and you can be hurt by this debris if it hits you. Dangerous flying debris can be blown under highway overpasses and bridges, or weaker overpasses and bridges could be destroyed. You will be safer lying flat in a low-lying area where wind and debris will blow above you. Tornadoes come from severe thunder- storms, which can produce a lot of rain. If you see quickly rising water or flood water coming towards you, move to another
For more information about how to protect yourself, family members and property during a tornado, click on http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/keepsafe/tornado.html.