Extreme Weather Potential Has City of Wichita Falls on its Toes
City of Wichita Falls Public Information Officer Barry Levy issued a statement today saying that city officials have mapped out some plans in the event an approaching winter storm turns ugly. Forecasters are watching a system that has already brought bitter cold and heavy snow to the west and is expected to move out of the Rockies and into the plains Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Although forecasters say computer models vary, the possibility that North Texas and Southern Oklahoma could be affected exists.
Officials met yesterday to start putting plans in place to deal with possible snow and ice conditions that could affect Wichita Falls beginning Christmas Day. “We have a comprehensive plan of action in place to respond with all the tools and crews at our disposal,” said Wichita Falls Fire Chief, Earl Foster. “We will have equipment prepositioned, crews on standby, Priority One Zones, roadways, and First Responder travel and response locations pinpointed and designated for service from street crews,” said Foster.
Street crews will have 8 chat spreaders, 3 graders, 3 snowplow equipped dump trucks, backhoes and loaders prepared and in place to respond to the road clearing and treatment needs of the City. The first areas that will receive chat or clearing include: hospitals, fire stations, the Police Department, ambulance headquarters and Central Services. Crews from the Police and Fire Departments, Public Works, Emergency Preparedness, Public Information and Aviation, Traffic and Transportation all have crews on notice, ready to respond as needed.
“We will do what we can to ensure that our First Responders have the major roadways in our Travel Response Network cleared throughout the City so they can respond as needed,” said Foster. “The public can play a significant role in this effort, if the weather is severe and roadways deemed impassable, by staying off the roads and staying home. This is the safest thing they can do for themselves and for the men and women who take great risk at these times to respond to emergencies,” said Foster.
City of Wichita Falls Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, John Henderson, will be in constant contact with City, County, State and Federal officials who are prepared to address any emergency needs that may arise due to the anticipated severe weather. Citizens can and should keep informed of the weather situation and City’s response by monitoring the City’s website, signing up for FREE weather alerts and City press releases through Notify Me on the City’s website listed under Online Services, monitoring the City’s Facebook and Twitter, tuning in to City Channel 11 on Time Warner Cable and signing up for FREE weather alerts through the City’s Code Red Weather Alert System.
“Citizens have to make preparations, stay informed and respond in the appropriate manner that will keep them, their families and our First Responders safe,” said Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, John Henderson. “The City has provided all the tools they’ll need to receive the latest information we have and what the City will do or has done to address any number of situations. The bottom line, if the situation is severe, is to be prepared, stay informed, stay off the roads and stay home,” said Henderson.
As with any cold weather event citizens are urged to take cold weather precautions including:
1. Avoiding travel unless absolutely necessary
2. Keeping an up-to-date emergency kit in your vehicle. The kit should include blankets, food and water, a cell phone charger for a vehicle, first aid kit, flashlight, winter hats, gloves and emergency flares
3. Keep vehicles parked in a garage
4. Insuring that you have adequate food and water supplies in your home
5. Protecting your home’s water pipes by:
-Keeping the heat above 55 degrees in the home
-Draining and storing outside garden hoses
-Insulating plumbing that is susceptible to cold air and freezing
-Letting faucets drip. A trickle of water can help prevent pipes from freezing and an open faucet gives the water someplace to run once it starts to warm up.
6. Keeping pets indoors or providing a heat source for their outdoor enclosure
7. Sign up for Code Red Weather Alerts and monitor all City tools for the latest information. To register, go to wichitafallstx.gov and clicking on Code Red Registration in the left hand column.