Breckenridge Texan

Local officials prepare for potentially dangerous weather tonight

Local officials prepare for potentially dangerous weather tonight
May 20
19:18 2019

Local community leaders and officials gathered at noon today to map out a plan in case Stephens County and Breckenridge are hit by dangerous storms today or early Tuesday morning.

Involved in the planning were representatives from the City of Breckenridge, Stephens County, the police and fire departments,  the Sheriff’s Office, Stephens Memorial Hospital, Sacred Cross EMS, Texas Department of Transportation, and several churches that have volunteered to serve as emergency shelters, if necessary.

The Stephens County Courthouse will be open tonight to serve as a shelter in case a tornado is spotted in the area. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Today’s meeting was prompted by the National Weather Service’s issuing  of a couple of “Particularly Dangerous Situation” tornado watches for an area that includes a large portion of West Texas, the Texas Panhandle, several North Texas counties and much of Oklahoma. Additionally, a High Risk warning for thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes also covers much of the same area.

Specifically, Stephens County is in an area that the NWS describes as having the best conditions for severe storms and heavy rain after midnight Monday, May 20, and into the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 21.

“We’re doing our best to be prepared, be ahead of the curve so it doesn’t catch us by surprise,” said County Judge Michael Roach, who also serves as the director of Emergency Services for the county, along with Bill Flournoy with the Sheriff’s Office.

According to Roach, the Stephens County Courthouse in downtown Breckenridge will be open tonight to serve as a tornado shelter in case local residents need shelter from the storm. The courthouse will serve only as a temporary shelter from a tornado. If any local residents are displaced from their homes because of tornado damage or flooding, First United Methodist Church will serve as a shelter, offering water, coffee, bathrooms and a cot to sleep on, if needed. If additional shelters are needed, Bethany Baptist Church and the Lighthouse Church.

If a tornado is spotted in Breckenridge, the main siren at the Breckenridge Fire Department will be sounded and/or fire trucks with sirens on will be deployed throughout the city.

As a precaution, in case storms lead to flooding in Breckenridge, the emergency response team has brought in a 2.5-ton “deuce and a half” vehicle from the Hubbard Creek Volunteer Fire Department and a large truck from the Wayland Volunteer Fire Department, both of which can be used to transport people through flood waters. Additionally, emergency vehicles will be stationed on various sides of town if it looks like flooding will block access to certain areas.

“Tonight, we’ll be monitoring the radar at the Law Enforcement Center; deploying spotters if that becomes necessary; deploying law enforcement assets where needed; supporting the incident commanders, so if there’s flooding in town we’ll have the chief of police and the fire chief coordinating that,” Roach said.


Story by Tony Pilkington and Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: The Hubbard Creek Volunteer Fire Department’s 2,5-ton “deuce and a half” vehicle has been moved into Breckenridge to be used in the case of severe flooding. The truck, as well as one that has been brought in from the Wayland Volunteer Fire Department, can be used to transport emergency personnel across flood waters or help rescue anyone stranded by flood water. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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