Nothing can be more invigorating or refreshing than spring. Leaves sprout, flowers bloom, and the air finally warms after months of the winter chill. Spring inevitably brings storms and, as recently seen in Moore, Oklahoma, some of those storms can be deadly.
Cleburne County residents are blessed with early warning systems in the event of violent weather, especially with the recent implementation of the CodeRED warning system. If you still haven’t signed up for the CodeRED warning system, you can do so at www.cleburnecountyar.com or call the county judge’s office at 501-362-8141 for more information. Warnings are great, but many residents are left wondering where to go when they receive that warning. For those that have built a storm shelter on their property, this answer is easy, but most county residents, especially those in apartments, don’t have the luxury of walking out their back door to safety. Moore, Oklahoma as well as other disaster stricken communities has shown the country, once again, that lack of adequate shelter can lead to tragedy.
To help combat this issue in Cleburne County, the County Judge’s Office and city governments are coming together to provide information on safe areas for the public in case of a city storm. When calling area governments to ask where they direct citizens for shelter in case of an impending storm, such as a tornado, it became apparent that the county is woefully lacking in official facilities for the public. In light of this, County Judge Jerry Holmes is kick starting a program that would encourage private citizens who have storm shelters to volunteer their shelter as a storm safety area for their neighbors that may not have other safety options. Any private citizens, businesses, or schools that have a designated “safe room” they would be willing to open to their neighbors in need are asked to call their local city halls or police departments and asked to be put on a list of available safe areas for their neighbors. If you don’t have a safe area to be in case of a storm, you could potentially call your local police department or city hall and they could refer you to the closest available shelter from the list of generous citizens and businesses that have agreed to help.
Currently, the following places are considered “safe areas” that we were able to learn as of press time. In Heber Springs, citizens can go the Cleburne County Courthouse on the square. Quitman currently has a safe room in the new library on Hwy 25. Greers Ferry residents can take shelter in the school and West Side Baptist Church, but, to their knowledge, these shelters are only available during the day. Pangburn recently completed 2 safe rooms in the school for use by the public. Neither Concord nor Rose Bud currently has a system in place to direct the public to safety in case of a violent storm.
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The Sun-Times encourages anyone that has a safe shelter to take part in this program and to sign up for the CodeRED warning system. In the event of a tragedy, every life saved is another blessing for Cleburne County