D. Michael Collins: Rainy days and MondaysWritten by D. Michael Collins | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The tornado siren goes off and if you are like many Toledo-area residents, you’ll head to the basement or an interior room while awaiting more details on the storm. If you are one of the thousands of area residents who live in a manufactured home park, the tornado warning advises you to leave your home and take immediate shelter.
Where do you seek shelter?
The United States has the highest occurrence of tornadoes in the world, with more than 800 tornadoes reported each year. In Ohio, more than 200 tornadoes have been reported during the past decade.
In 2010, I was first approached by residents of a manufactured home park and asked that question. It is one I have asked members of the Mayor Mike Bell administration in 2010, in 2011 and again in 2012. Receiving no response as to what is the suggested safety plan for the residents of nearly 30 manufactured home parks in Toledo, as chair of Public Safety, Law & Criminal Justice, I held a hearing on Monday, April 23.
Residents of manufactured homes are at an increased risk during severe weather. In 2005, Harold Brooks, a National Weather Service research meteorologist, said mobile home residents are between 15 and 20 percent more likely to die in a tornado than people living in wood-frame houses.
The purpose of the hearing was to discover if the City of Toledo had a plan for residents of manufactured home parks that included suggested shelters; Lucas County Emergency Management Services and the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office were also invited to the hearing.
None of the Toledo safety forces administrators invited to the hearing chose to attend. Major John Tharp of the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office and Joe Walter of Lucas County Emergency Management Service did attend.
Shirley Green, safety director for the City of Toledo, stated in an April 20 email that neither she, Fire and Rescue Chief Luis Santiago nor Police Chief Derrick Diggs would attend the April 23 hearing, “As a matter of protocol concerning tornado events, we (TPD and TFRD) continue to implement and follow the process established by the Lucas County Emergency Operations Plan.”
On April 21, I requested a copy of that process be provided prior to the hearing. It was not provided.
Manufactured home parks are regulated by the state, which means it would be difficult for Toledo to regulate what type of safe shelters must be provided. While states like Minnesota require manufactured home parks to have storm shelters, Ohio does not.
Discussions could take place about what funding options exist. At least two manufactured home parks in other parts of Ohio received FEMA funding for storm shelters.
Spending taxpayer dollars on shelters was not a suggestion, nor is it something I advocate. I do support Councilman Rob Ludeman’s suggestion of exploring what type of tax incentives or insurance incentives exist for owners of manufactured home parks who provide shelters.
I wanted to stress the public information aspect and encourage residents to know weather terminology. According to Impact Forecasting:
O A tornado watch is issued when meteorologists believe conditions are favorable for the formation of severe weather and tornadoes. At this time you should be going over your tornado safety rules and keeping abreast of the weather conditions via television, radio or NOAA radio.
O A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has been spotted or weather radar indicates a developing tornado. When a tornado warning is issued, head to a tornado-safe place, such as a basement or interior room.
Possible safe shelter locations exist in our community for residents of manufactured homes and for others in our community who are not at home or who live in a home they feel is not safe during a tornado. However, if the Public Safety administration in Toledo does not work with Lucas County and the community to explore how we come up with those safe shelter locations and to publicize what options our residents have when severe weather threatens — the question asked two years ago will keep being asked.
“There’s a tornado coming — where do I seek safe shelter?”
D. Michael Collins is the Toledo City Councilman for District 2 and the chair of Council’s Public Safety, Law & Criminal Justice committee. Call him at (419) 245-1050, email him at email@example.com or visit Facebook at www.facebook.com/ToledoDistrict2.