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Oklahoma city closes 2 public storm shelters

BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Modified: August 20, 2014 at 9:57 am •  Published: August 20, 2014
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SHAWNEE — A central Oklahoma city will no longer use its city hall and a fire station as public storm shelters.

Donald Lynch, Shawnee's emergency management director, recommended the city commission vote on eliminating use of the buildings as shelters, citing potential dangers, an increase in private shelters, and trash left behind by residents after a storm.

The Shawnee city commission approved a measure 5-2 on Monday night to stop using the city hall and a fire station, a local newspaper reported.

Lynch said he estimates up to 700 shelters have been registered in Shawnee. He said residents usually wait until right before a storm hits to travel to a public storm shelter, putting them in harm's way.

He also said residents have brought food and animals into the buildings, leaving behind trash, urine and feces.

Mayor Wes Mainord agreed the city should stop allowing the two buildings to be used as public storm shelters.

"If you've been down here, and seen what's going on in letting them come in here, you would definitely know we need to close it," Mainord said.

But commissioner James Harrod disagreed.

"Those still are public facilities and should be used as public facilities," he said.

Harrod was one of the commissioners to vote against the measure.

According to Lynch, Norman, Midwest City and Edmond have closed some of their public storm shelters.