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Jefferson County Officials Urge Residents to be Prepared for Natural Disasters

Jefferson County officials say small rural communities like Waurika have plans in place to ensure the safety of its residents during an emergency.

A week after tornadoes ripped through parts of Oklahoma and North Texas, smaller communities in Texoma are double checking their safety plans.

The damage and destruction left behind by a twister in Oklahoma is unimaginable.

Many lives were lost but many were also saved because of tornado sirens. 

Now smaller communities like Waurika want to make sure they are ready before the next big storm.

Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Dale Spradlin says residents' safety goes beyond tornado sirens but there steps in place to ensure everyone knows when to take cover during severe weather.

"I would recommend that each storm siren system be tested at least weekly especially during storm season," Dale says. "We all have the same guidelines that if we observe something that is rise to have some concern, we will try to alert our communities."

Spradlin and his wife Ren, who are both trained storm spotters, work closely with the National Weather Service and monitor weather conditions daily.

Dale says each town in Jefferson County has its own warning mechanism that is routinely checked.

"If there is the need for an alarm or to blow the sirens or whatever, we'll notify the local authorities. They in turn go out as well. If the weather service puts out a warning, we encourage them to go ahead and sound the alarm," Dale exclaims.

He says, "In the event the alarms may not work, many times the fire men and the police departments will go up and down the streets and ring their own vehicle sirens and alarms and try and warn people."

Ren says warning residents now goes beyond tornado sirens.

"As the storms are progressing, I basically go on Facebook and start reporting," Ren says.

She says her role has become even more important with advances in technology and social media.

"We know days ahead that there is going to be an event," Ren says. "There is no excuse to wait for that siren because the siren is a last resort."

The Spradlins say there are a lot of things you can do to keep you and you loved ones safe.

They suggest owning a weather radio, signing up for weather alerts from the National Weather Service and local news outlets.

Also, use social media like Twitter and Facebook, be observant and have an emergency plan.
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