McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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December 4, 2013

Emergency Management officials brain storm for bad weather

McALESTER — Several city and county officials gathered Wednesday afternoon with Pittsburg County Emergency Management staff to prepare for the adverse weather conditions forecast for Thursday and Friday.

The meeting was held in the PCEM office in basement  of Pittsburg County Criminal Justice Center.

During the meeting the officials listened in to a live broadcast by the National Weather Service Forecast System which forecasted freezing rain sleet and snow for the area.

According the broadcast school districts may have a tough time deciding whether or not to close the schools before school opens Thursday, because the weather isn’t expected to turn into sleet and snow until the late morning.

A winter storm warning is in effect from 6 a.m. Thursday until 6 p.m. Friday, according to the broadcast and the weather could continue through the weekend.

Meanwhile during the meeting PCEM Interim Director Lois Lupardus said residents need to fill up their gas and their propane tanks as soon as possible before the storm and once the storm hits residents should stay in their  homes as much as possible if they can.

“It more dangerous to be out on the icy streets,” she said.

However if the temperature drops and residents are without power Red Cross Director Lynn Edwards said his organization was prepared to assist with cots.

McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak said the JI Stipe center will be on standby if needed by the public if the power goes out.

Although city and county facilities are prepared for possible electrical outages that could be caused by the storm, PCEM Interim Director Lois Lupardus said if the weather caused  electrical outages some local rest homes may not be prepared for long term outages.

“Many of these long term care facilities do not have large generators; It wasn’t mandated by the state,” Lupardus said.

And she because rest homes are for-profit they were not eligible for generators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Lupardis said Public Service Company of Oklahoma supplier for electricity for the area will have workers on stand by in local area in case of emergency.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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