When cities and towns of all sizes prepare a continuity of operations plan, it is crucial that officials account for severe weather that is most likely to affect the area. That way, residents and business owners will not only be aware of emergency escape routes, they can also be aware of which areas are safe for them to shelter in place, if necessary.
Seeking out shelter was the only option for many residents of Moore, Oklahoma, a town near Oklahoma City. On Monday afternoon, an EF-5 tornado blew threw the area, destroying homes, businesses and schools that were in its path. According to current reports, 24 people were killed.
At one point, the storm was measured with a width of 1.3 miles and it left behind a 20-mile damage trail. According to Governor Mary Fallin, the town will rebuild and maintain its strength.
"It was hard to look at so much debris on the ground," she told the Los Angeles Times. "In many places, homes have been taken away. It is just sticks and bricks. Street signs are gone."
CNN reported that city officials were working hard to print new street signs, so rescue efforts could be helped and residents would know where to search for belongings and loved ones. The news source added that Texas sent an 80-member, elite search team to assist and the American Red Cross sent 25 emergency response vehicles.
No town can predict how a storm will affect it, which is why having comprehensive continuity of operations planning is essential. Conducting tabletop exercises is also beneficial, as first responders can practice moving to appropriate areas and residents can make sure they are able to find their way to a safe area.