WALTERS, OK (KSWO) -New equipment in Cotton County will help emergency officials be better prepared when it comes to natural disasters, like flooding and winter storms.
The Cotton County Emergency Management Department now owns 21 generators and six portable light poles. A $135,000 Rural Economic Action Plan grant from the state made the purchase possible after county commissioners filed for assistance last year. Four area fire departments will also have access to this new equipment.
They want to spread the equipment around the county, so it can be accessible to their main population areas. Fire departments in Walters, Temple, Devol and Randlett will each receive three portable generators, a permanently mounted generator and a light pole so the equipment will be readily available wherever a disaster may strike across the county.
Cotton County Emergency Management Director Shawn Strange says by the time bad weather hits the county, many area resources are already tapped out.
"We've decided to go ahead and supply these and have our own local resources, and it's not just resources for Cotton County, it's also resources for Tillman, Comanche any of our neighboring counties. If we are not dealing with a disaster and they need them, we would gladly mutual aid them out to them," Strange said.
Strange says the equipment allows emergency response to become almost immediate, day or night.
"The light towers also allow us, another shift if you will, a nighttime shift. If we have an incident like a downtown fire or something of that nature, now we are working through the night. We have got enough towers that we can set up and run another whole 12 hours," Strange explained.
Strange says with their new permanent generators in the stations, emergency responders will be able help people of the communities with special needs.
"Oh, it is very critical. You know, we have people on oxygen and elderly people that can't cook and stuff. We are able to bring them in and warm them up and take care of their needs right then and there, locally," Strange said.
The generators can run on propane or natural gas for as long as they need to provide power to the departments for running radios and other equipment. Strange says the fire departments will now be able to serve as shelters and warming stations if the power gets knocked out.
"Having that ability to have that resource to take care of their community. I mean, that is what firefighters do and you now it's a big step. It really puts us on a map of being able to take care of ourselves," Strange said.
During previous emergencies, the county didn't have their own portable generators and it could take 12 hours or more to get the equipment they needed. The six light towers are expected to arrive in the next two weeks to be given out to the fire departments and emergency management.
The four fire chiefs will receive their generators Monday night at a meeting in Walters with Cotton County Emergency Management.