Comanche Co. Storm Shelters Not Safe, Closed - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Comanche Co. Storm Shelters Not Safe, Closed

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LAWTON, Okla_Severe weather is here, already hitting parts of our viewing area, but if you live in Lawton you need to know public shelters are a thing of the past.

Comanche County Emergency Management tells 7News public shelters haven't been around in Lawton for a few years now. Even though, we had viewers asking about shelter locations on Facebook. We also spoke with one viewer who said she would have tried going to one of the old shelters if we hadn't talked.

Severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings, they just come with the territory for many Oklahomans, but that's not the case for Ludmila Andrews. If she even hears the word tornado, she gets emotional.

"I'm terrified," she said.

Andrews tried to laugh it off, but she has reason to be terrified. She's from Germany.

"We do have thunderstorms," she said, "But it doesn't get too severe like tornado warnings, tornado watch, all of this."

Fear of the unknown isn't only what terrifies Andrews about storms. She's mainly concerned about the safety of her two daughters. She's afraid her home isn't equipped to withstand a tornado.

Comanche County Emergency Management Coordinator, Clint Wagstaff, said she is safer there, than on the way to a shelter.

"The biggest fear we all have in Emergency Management," Wagstaff said, "is that people leave their homes, moving to a public shelter and getting killed on the highway."

It's just one reason why places, like Lawton Macarthur High, are not open to the public anymore during storms.

On top of that, Wagstaff said shelters run the risk of having to turn people away due to reaching capacity. He said he'd rather see people prepare ahead of time, instead of waiting until the last minute.

"This storm we're talking about today has been predicted two or three days out," Wagstaff said. "People know about it. Don't take it for granted, we're in southwest Oklahoma where most of the storms start."

Andrews agreed with Wagstaff there, she says she is prepared.

However, she said she will kindly have to agree to disagree about closing the shelters all together.

"I can't believe it," she said. "I didn't even know we didn't have them anymore. So I'm shocked."

Wagstaff said if you feel unsafe in your home, you should get to a secure building, but much before the storm hits.  

7News checked with some other, larger cities in our viewing area like Altus and Duncan, to see if they provide a public storm shelter. They don't. 

Some smaller towns like Chattanooga, Marlow, and Geronimo do though, in most cases at one of the schools.

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