LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Emergency management personal from across Southwest Oklahoma gathered in Lawton for their annual conference.
Over the course of the two-day event, officials from various organizations, including the Red Cross, FEMA, AEP and Cotton Electric, talked to local emergency officials about what they can expect in the event of a natural disaster. Those who attended also learned the importance of working together to help minimize the impact of a disaster.
One of the main topics of discussion was how to help citizens survive the devastating effects of a severe winter ice storm.
Last winter's ice storm hit parts of Southwest Oklahoma hard, leaving many without power for days on end.
"We were out of electricity for at least seven days. That really displaced us. We were having to stay in hotels, we stayed in our house for a little bit, but it was too cold to stay in there," said Lyle Cable, Comanche County emergency manager.
Cotton County Emergency Manager Shawn Strange says when disaster strikes, it often feels like the power can't come on soon enough. He says waiting for it to flip back on can seem like an eternity, but he says there's a method to the madness.
"The electrical companies naturally start with the hospitals. That's going to be their main priority. Next, they taught us, will be the 911 services and then from there they just work their way out as need," Strange explained.
He says that's why it's so important for residents and emergency officials to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature dishes out.
"We went out and purchased 10K generators. We also purchased six light towers with generators in them to better help our community open up warming stations, or shelters if we need to," Strange said.
Emergency officials said while storms in Oklahoma would always be guaranteed, a budget that could afford everything a county or city needs to make through one isn't. That's why he says it's so important to stretch resources by sharing with your neighbors and knowing what they have.
"It's real important that I know what my neighbors have, rather than have to call to OKC or Tulsa to build that relationship where I know what's in the next county or two counties away. It's just getting me my resources that much quicker to my people," Strange said.
Other topics discussed over the two-day convention included how to respond to an active shooter in the community and flooding.
The conference was held in the Prairie Building at the Comanche County Fair Grounds and was hosted by Comanche County Emergency Management.