You Ask, We Investigate: Severe weather plans for Northwest Arkansas’ public places

In this week’s ‘You Ask, We Investigate’ report, KNWA’s Katelynn Zoellner found out what you should do if you find yourself at a public place like the Jones Center when severe weather hits.

The sounding of tornado sirens signals a severe weather threat. It’s important to always take sirens seriously.

“Our best option during bad weather is to shoulder in place, but we are certainly here if somebody is in the building, we are there for them,” said Ed Clifford, President and CEO of the Jones Center.

Clifford said there’s a plan in place for guests and staff when conditions become dangerous.

“We are certainly here if somebody is in the building, we are there for them,” he said. “We don’t want them to leave, we want them to be right here in this hallway and be safe. We direct everyone off of the first floor, because there’s way too much glass in every section of the first floor. We direct them down to this area that you see behind me, because it’s really the only area that’s safe if really bad weather hit.”

No matter where you’re at during severe weather, having a plan is critical.

“Knowing where you’re going to go, especially in your home, if you don’t have a storm shelter, what’s your best avenue,” said Fire Chief Mike Irwin with the Springdale Fire Department.

Irwin said there are no public shelters in Springdale.

“That’s kind of an old process that happened years ago,” he said. “I know when I was a kid, everybody had storm shelters that you went to when there was a significant storm. But, we learned over time that’s not the best avenue to put people in.”

He said if you do not have a storm shelter in your  home, go to the lowest level of your home that you can get to.

“Typically a bathroom or utility room that’s in the center of the home and not against the outside walls is the best place to go,” he said.

Should a tornado happen during operating hours at the Scott Family Amazeum, officials said visitors and workers would remain inside the building in designated areas. People cycling, playing or walking on museum grounds are welcome to come inside for shelter.

There’s also a plan in place at Crystal Bridges. During the threat of severe weather, officials said they will move all guests and staff to lower floors and the interior of the building, where concrete walls offer protection. They encourage anyone nearby including those on the museum’s trails to come inside for shelter.

If there’s something you want to know about in your community, we want to investigate it. You can send your questions to Katelynn at KZoellner@knwa.com.

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