The importance of storm shelter availability in Nebraska

In this story, we talk about the importance and availability of storm shelters across the area as severe weather season is in high swing here in Nebraska!!
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 11:42 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2023 at 6:24 AM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) -Severe weather season is in full swing here across the Plains, which includes Nebraska. Two important things to know during severe weather season is to know where storm shelters are across the area and go to a storm shelter when needed.

According to Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Brandon Myers, he explains that storm shelters are not as common anymore across the state due to the topography and the structure of the water table.

“Public storm shelters. There really isn’t any,” Myers said. “Pretty much storm government shelters. We have gotten away with those many years ago.”

Myers also said that if people looking for storm shelters, especially those who have homes that aren’t equipped for severe weather such as homes that windows in every room and mobile homes, to seek shelters in nearby, sturdy buildings.

“Most buildings, most businesses that have been built, kind of have a follow design. To have an interior room will work. Not necessarily a storm shelter. That’s why we tell everybody. The most interior rooms without windows are the safest spot,” Myers said.

Myers said if people want to build a storm shelter at their homes if more permanent structures aren’t available within reach when severe weather occurs across the viewing area, to go through the proper steps in order to make sure that you are truly safe when seeking shelter.

“I’ve seen new homes constructed that they build it in the middle of their home. A safe room like that. You can build them in your backyard, preferably underground,” Myers said. “Get with a contractor that actually knows how to build proper storm shelters. The things I don’t like seeing people is making a makeshift storm shelter. There are things they they have to look at for strength and vulnerability. Things like that. As well as getting the proper permits. We don’t want to see people build at hogs storm shelter and it collapse on them.”

Dr. Craig CeeCee's tool through Google Maps to ensure people have a place to go when severe...
Dr. Craig CeeCee's tool through Google Maps to ensure people have a place to go when severe weather occurs(KNOP)

Technology has gone a long way, and many meteorologists and scientists across the country have been creating tools, such as radar apps, satellite and recon data for hurricanes and other unique and helpful tools.

Dr. Craig CeeCee, who received their doctorate degree from Mississippi State University in meteorology, created a feature on Google Maps that can help people find shelters to escape from the wrath of tornadoes, or any severe storms that comes along the way.

“I felt that it was really needed in the early findings in the dissertation,” Dr. Craig CeeCee said. “It helps a lot. It shows where the shelter is. That they wouldn’t have known that it was there.”

This project has evolved over the last couple of years, and CeeCee explained that it was more of a need for the public to use than he had expected and that it has a lifeline for users.

“At first I didn’t know how important it was, but I have been receiving testimonials from people. Just not here in Mississippi. In other states they have found it and they taken shelter because they needed to,” CeeCee said. ”For example a few weeks ago, in Kansas reached out to me and said, They found a location off the turn pike’.”

CeeCee will continue to develop this tool overtime, and is thinking on creating an app to includes features such as if the shelters accepts pets, and to feature the app in Spanish. CeeCee’s Google Maps feature can be found here.