Newton County residents with storm shelters or safe rooms can add their name and shelter information to a county-wide list to make them easier to find after a severe storm.
Gary Roark, Newton County's Emergency Management Director, said his office is compiling a list, to be distributed to all fire departments within the county, to assist rescue workers in the event of a tornado or strong storm.
"A lot of different areas are doing this," Roark said. "When a tornado hits, a lot of times there might be a tree that might be down blocking the entrance to a storm shelter, or if they're in the house they could be trapped in there.
This way, when they go looking for them we'll know that they do have some type of either safe room or shelter there and we'll be looking for them in those locations."
Roark said the list is for Newton County residents living inside or outside of city limits who have a safe room or storm shelter.
To be added to the list, residents can call the Newton County Emergency Management Office, or stop by their office to fill out a form.
Roark said information needed to be on the list is the individual's name, address, what type of shelter they have and where, inside or outside of the home, that shelter is located, and a phone number, preferably to a cell phone.
"In all probability, if something happens and we're trying to locate them, the landlines are going to be down," Roark said. "Cell phones might be, but they might not be, so if we have a cell phone number then we can try to contact them."
Roark said it is also helpful if, when residents sign up, they also include which fire department covers them.
He said emergency management would assign those, but in some cases in the county the coverage areas are close and residents providing that information at the time of signing up could be helpful to the emergency management department.
"This information is going to go to all the fire departments," Roark said. "We'll have a master list that we'll keep of everybody that we have reports on. We'll break that list down by locations, and we'll go ahead and send it to each of the fire departments as soon as we get it compiled, but it's going to be an updated thing on a constant basis."
He said if a natural disaster were to occur shortly after someone had been added to the list, and that information had not been passed on to the individual's local fire department, emergency management would also have that information and be able to pass it along to the correct department.
Those interested in being added to the list can do so by calling Newton County Emergency Management between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, at 451-4357, or by stopping by to fill out a form at their office, at 202 W. Brook Street in Neosho.
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