by Fred Mullen
What we missed in the intensity of our Spring fire season we seem to be making up for with our Spring severe weather season. Storms this past week provided plenty of challenges for responders and citizens. Fortunately, I have not learned of anyone hurt. Damage to homes and farm buildings occurs from Charleston across the County to Altus and Denning. Ozark was also hit with a lot of down trees. White Rock Mountain over to Morgan Mountain was heavily impacted. My special thanks to Chief Billy Atchely and Officer Mark Spain from Charleston for their extra efforts in get the warning message out to the citizens.
As usual, lots of responders, dispatchers and neighbors went above and beyond to help out. I met several farmers with tractors working to clear roads and highways. (I have some really neat video of Scott Childers dragging a huge sycamore down Oak Bend Road.) Contractors brought their equipment out to help clear roads and driveways. Others blocked traffic so folks would not drive into hot power lines. Not many people in Franklin County pass up the opportunity to be a blessing to others during challenging times.
The Altus area has incredible amounts of storm debries. They need folks with chain saws, pickups, etc. If you would like to help them out, please call the City Hall at 479-468-4191 or Mayor Post at 479-518-1963. Also, if you need help with cleaning up your yard, give them a call.
Again, we can’t say this enough, find a commercial radio and TV station that you have confidence in and be sure to listen to the weather forecast each day. Commercial TV stations have free apps you can add to your phone that will provide up-to-date weather conditions. Weather Radios (NOAA) are very affordable now and can be programmed to activate only for the area you live in. Franklin County offers the CodeRed phone app which will send you weather warnings. It is also used to send other important information (recently we used it to send out a notice of missing elderly person to subscribers within 2 mile radius of the last known point of the subject. Fifty-eight additional persons began to keep an eye out for out missing person!) To subscribe to this FREE service go to the OEM website <fcoem.org> and click on CodeRed.
Please do not rely only on the tornado sirens. They were designed and first used during a time period when homes were open, people worked outside, and other methods of alerting did not exist. They have deficiencies during severe weather, such as: lightning in the area can interfere with their radio activation process; walls and windows are so well insulated that the alert is not heard in the home; the electricity to them may already be off before they are activated; and others.
Last Wednesday, we received a call from Turner’s Bend Store reporting an elderly couple stranded in their canoe at Jump Start, which is just inside Johnson County, on the Mulberry River. We called Johnson County and they requested our assistance. The Barnes Fire Department and the OEM SAR Team was dispatched to respond to the scene. Within a few minutes we received a call from Byrd’s Adventure Center that other boaters had rescued the couple. we were able to cancel our response. Special thanks to these two Outfitters for helping us coordinate the response to this incident and to the boaters who helped out.
TRAINING and EVENTS
AFA Fire Streams–18:00 hrs Fri May 24 and 08:00 hrs Sat May 25 at Watalula FD
Stop-the-Bleed–09:00 hrs to 10:30 hrs Tue May 28 at the Ozark Courthouse (if you want to attend, please call Randy at 479-209-0817)
AFA Fire Behavior–18:00 hrs Mon Jun 3 at Branch FD
AFA Certified Training Officer–18:00 hrs Fri Jun 14 and 08:00 hr Sat Jun 15 at Watalula FD
Don’t forget Saturday Night BINGO at the Cecil Fire Station starting at 18:00 hrs–food, fun, door prizes! Supports a great cause.