Community (Public) Shelters
Severe weather is a threat to our citizens at any time during the year. However, the threat of severe weather including high winds, hail and tornadoes is most prominent during the spring and early summer seasons.
Every year, citizens ask about public storm shelters available to them prior to and during severe weather events. Cowley County Emergency Management does not operate, own, maintain, or open any public shelters prior to any severe storm. We encourage citizens to locate alternative sheltering locations by contacting their neighbors, family, friends, co-workers, etc. The time to make that plan is well before the storm so when there is a threat of severe weather, those plans can be carried out.
However, some communities across Cowley County have designated storm shelters that are open to the public before and during severe weather. Cowley County has absolutely no control over these shelters to include when they are open, how long they are open, when they are closed, who can be in the shelter or how many people can be sheltered. Cowley County is not responsible for any damages that occur inside a shelter, to a shelter, or any injuries or harm that may occur during this process. These shelters are a courtesy of the owner and it is up to them to establish guidelines or policies as to how they will be operated and they assume all liability and risk.
We are aware that many citizens are looking for these places. However, Cowley County cannot force any business, church or other organization to open their doors to allow for public sheltering. Even if a location is opened, there is no guarantee that we will be made aware of it to pass it along to the public. If a jurisdiction, organization or business does open a public shelter, that is completely their decision and their policies and rules must be followed.
Below are two links containing information about community shelters that has been provided to Cowley County Emergency Management. The first is a list of shelters along with owner/contact name and contact information. The second is a map with the locations of the shelters. We encourage anyone that may want to use a public shelter to locate the shelter closest to your home, make contact with the hosting agency and learn the specific policies about that shelter.
Sheltering should be taken care of at the personal level. It is your responsibility to locate a safe place to shelter long before any severe weather strikes. When creating your personal sheltering plan, keep in mind the time it takes to travel to a public shelter and the risk associated with being outdoors during severe weather.