Refuge workers review tornado warning plans

Wichita Mts._In the wake of the deadly tornado that swept through a Boy Scout camp in Iowa, workers at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge reviewed their procedures for storm warnings, and rescue and recovery efforts. The refuge has 90 campsites in their 60,000acres, so there can be hundreds of campers out there any given weekend.

The refuge has a full-time emergency management team, on-call and ready to respond if severe weather such as a tornado is coming.  "We have emergency management staff out on the refuge, obviously in the area of the most concern, using public announcement to inform the public on what the situation is and to evacuate them to safer areas," said Wildlife Refuge Manager Jeff Rupert.

They have specialized vehicles with public address speakers and horns to alert people of storms.  If there's not time to evacuate, they'll direct them to shelters such as this shower and bathhouse.  "Luckily at the campground, a lot of the structures are built out of very solid wood and rock, so there were good places for people to go," said Refuge worker Richard Baker.   "But that's a consideration for anyone out at the refuge.  Be aware of where you are and what the weather's gonna do."

Since the refuge is so large, they have to rely on campers and hikers to be informed and cautious for their own safety. They advise visitors to plan ahead to try and keep out of danger.

If they have to rescue someone after a storm, they have medical kits, chainsaws, winches to pull people to safety, and even bottled water for dehydrated campers.