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Emergency officials advise residents to have severe weather plans

Tornadoes across the Midwest have many in Mid-Missouri asking how prepared their cities and buildings are for severe weather.

Officials at the Columbia/Boone County Office of Emergency Management said they have received numerous calls in the last few days about severe weather preparedness.

Emergency officials said the most important thing for residents to have is a plan during stormy weather.

Boone County Emergency Management employees said a plan can be the difference between life and death in extreme weather conditions.

Officials say 13 minutes is the average lead time a person has to get to their designated shelter after a tornado warning is issued and emergency sirens sound.

Emergency management leaders told ABC 17 News Tuesday their biggest concern is for those who do not have a plan.

“The biggest thing I see right now is the need for identifying your shelter areas,” said Martina Pounds of the Boone County Fire Protection District and Office of Emergency Management.

Since some homes do not have basements, Pounds says the safest place is the central area of the home, like a closet, away from windows. But Pounds says if you can find a basement, that would be safer.

“Talk to your neighbors, see if your neighbors have a basement you can go to,” Pounds suggested.

ABC 17 News visited several Columbia apartment complexes and mobile home parks, including The Links and Kelly’s Ridge, on Tuesday to see if they have plans in place for severe weather.

Every complex and park manager said not only do they not have shelters, they have no set emergency plan and are not required to have one.

Residents in those complexes and mobile home parks said they already have a local business picked out to seek shelter in if there was a tornado.

For those that do not have plan, emergency officials say now is the time to make one.

“It’s not the time to decide where you’re going to go when the sirens go off,” said Pounds. “It’s very, very important you have that set up ahead of time and make those phone calls, make those connections, so you know what to do.”

Emergency managers advise everyone to choose a shelter that is fairly close to where you live and know where you are going to go before a tornado becomes a threat.

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