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Posted: Feb 22, 2021 1:50 PMUpdated: Feb 22, 2021 1:55 PM

Wash. Co. to Honor Volunteer Response During Storms

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Garrett Giles

Approximately 40 people used local warming centers in Washington County during the historic winter weather event that the area experienced last week.

Washington County Emergency Management (WCEM) Director Kary Cox said the West Side Community Center (WSCC) and The Gathering Space at the Comanche Center in Bartlesville were instrumental in opening their doors to those in need. He said several area churches also chipped in to man those locations and feed the people that arrived at the shelters.

Cox said the shelters were such a great success that the WCEM is going to completely rewrite the shelter portion of its plan.

Lorront Carney with the West Side Community Center has agreed to sit on the WCEM's Planning Board and be a part of the shelter planning process. Cox said they're looking at several possibilities at the WSCC in the future as far as sheltering goes.

A cache of FEMA shelter cots that were obtained several years ago by the WCEM were used at the warming centers in Washington County. Cox said they were able to utilize those cots at both shelter locations in Bartlesville.

The WCEM's Ozone UV Machines were also used at the warming centers. Cox said the WCEM acquired these devices through CARES Act funding in late 2020. He said two of the devices were used at the WSCC and one was used at The Gathering.

The Gathering's warming center shut down over the weekend. Cox said they used the ozone treatment from the machines to completely clean and sanitize the facility so it can return to its normal use. He said they're using the same system with the cots by closing them inside an isolated room to be treated before they're wrapped up and stored away again.

The Ramona Friends Church also opened its doors to anyone that needed shelter last week. Washington County Sheriff Scott Owen and Cox said they haven't heard much on how that shelter did last week. Cox said he believes a few people came by to eat by didn't stay at the shelter at any point during the winter storm.

Sheriff Owen thanked Brian Schexnayder with Crossroads Baptist Church for all his help in getting the shelter at the West Side Community Center secured. He said Schexnayder is cross-commissioned with the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Bartlesville Police Department, and serves as a chaplain. 

Cox thanked City Church for providing resources. He said City Church is also appreciated for stepping up to help those in need that couldn't get out and about.

Everyone that made the warming centers possible and that stepped up during a great time of need are expected to be honored at a later date by the Washington County Commissioners.


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