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The storm season is here. The tornado in Moore, OK was terrible, and a grim reminder of the Joplin Tornado.
Thank God Oswego has been spared of a direct tornado hit. Although we have been fortunate in the past, it does
not guarantee we will always be spared. Are you and your family ready in case your home would be in the path
of a tornado? Do you have a basement, storm shelter, or safe room to take shelter in?
I have heard several concerns from citizens that the City no longer unlocks the doors at the courthouse,
Jr. High building, and Presbyterian Church when a tornado warning is issued. There are several reasons for
this, and they all involve the safety of those who might use these buildings.
First and foremost, these buildings most likely are not safe in case of a direct hit by a tornado. If anyone
was in any of these buildings during a tornado, there is a possibility they could be injured or killed. These
buildings often give people a false sense of security and safety. Generally speaking, you are probably safer
at home in your bath tub with a mattress or something pulled over you, or even in a closet, crawl space, or
hallway. One exception would be if you live in a mobile home, which is very unsafe in a storm. If there is
any question in anyone’s mind about the safety of a school building, take a look at the schools in Joplin, MO
or Moore, OK, both well built, that took a direct hit; they were flattened. Moore had 7 fatalities plus other
injuries in one school building, even though many of their children were no longer there; Joplin would have
been much worse had the tornado happened while school was in session, instead of on a Sunday.
Another concern is if a tornado is headed our way and someone loads their family in a car. If the tornado
would hit prior to them arriving at the shelter, they would be more likely to get injured or killed in their
car than if they had stayed at home. Look at some of the cars that have gone thru a tornado, would you have
wanted to have been in them?
Also, if there is a tornado approaching Oswego and the Police Department or others responsible for unlocking the
doors are tied up on other emergencies, or could not make it to the locations to get the doors unlocked, someone
could be sitting in their car at the shelter and not be able to get in. That would be a more dangerous situation
than being in the most secure location in your home. The City does not want to be responsible for putting anyone
in harms way.
It is up to each of us to provide a safe home for our family, which includes the safety for our family during a
storm or tornado. That responsibility does not default to the City. If you don’t have a basement, storm shelter,
or safe room, I strongly encourage you to have one installed. Cost starts somewhere between $2000 and $3000.
I understand that this may be a financial burden on some, to whom I suggest that if a neighbor has a basement
or storm shelter, you ask them if you could use it in case of a tornado. Most importantly, have a plan of what
you will do if there is a tornado warning.
If you have a storm shelter or safe room, please notify the City so our police and fire department will know
where to check for people in case we ever have the misfortune of being hit by a tornado. I would encourage rural
residents to notify us also because our fire department serves the rural area. We don’t want anyone trapped in a
storm shelter and not know where to look for you.
One final suggestion is to have a helmet of some sort, such as bicycle or motorcycle helmet to wear. Many deaths
are due to head injuries in a tornado.In an effort to better educate our residents on tornado safety, I have
contacted a local TV station about the possibility of putting on a tornado safety program here in Oswego, hopefully
we can get that coordinated. We also have some information available on personal storm shelters at City Hall. It is
not all-inclusive, but enough to give you an idea where to start. Stay safe.
Glenn Fischer, Mayor