ROGERS COUNTY, Okla. -- After last month's devastating tornadoes, Rogers County officials are urging homeowners to register their storm shelters before the next storm hits.
The registry provides potentially life-saving information to first responders, who can use it to try and find people trapped in their storm shelters amid the debris.
Employees at the Rogers County assessor's office can help people register their storm shelters or safe rooms. The registration information they need includes the address, type of storm shelter and location on someone's property.
The info is then plotted on a map that first responders can access during a disaster.
"We just hope that if it saves one life, it's all worth it," assessor Scott Marsh said.
"This is something that needs to be taken care of," he added, "and I think that the community's awareness of it is very important.
The City of Claremore started its own storm shelter registry as well about three yeas ago. So far almost 200 people have used an online form to register theirs, but fire chief Sean Douglas said it's important to get more on the list.
Douglas said the registry would allow first responders to go into an area and know were to look to see if people may be trapped under debris.
"We search anyway to look for anybody that may be trapped -- whether they have a shelter or not," Douglas said. "But this gives us a good indicator that they have a shelter; if they're there, they're more likely to be in that location."
Marcia Holland, who lives in the Stone Canyon neighborhood in Owasso, had a safe room installed two weeks before the March 30 tornadoes. She registered her shelter with the county as well, and said that made her feel comforted after the storm.
"Hopefully we won't ever have to use (the shelter) again, but it's there if we need it," Holland said.
"If something should fall on the doors and we can't get out," she added, "they know where to look for us."
Anyone who would like to register a storm shelter can contact the Rogers County assessor's office at 918-923-4795 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
An online registration form can also be found on the city of Claremore's web site here.