Shawnee Public Tornado Shelter Update

Storm clouds over rural country road and fields

UPDATED June 15, 2023

In 2014, Shawnee closed two of its public storm shelters in City Hall and Fire Station #3 on MacArthur. This brings us to wonder sometimes what to do if we’re caught in a severe storm with tornadoes. Tornadoes can pop up quickly, so we need to have a plan before we’re under a tornado warning.

As of May 20, 2019, the City of Shawnee has closed all public access to previously open storm shelters. In contrast to previous rumors, Immanuel Baptist Church does not have any public shelter. There had been talk that Grove School may offer shelter after school hours, but that’s unverified. Please independently verify your emergency shelter site plan prior to the next storm threat.

In the past, the Shawnee Emergency Management director has stressed that you are discouraged from waiting until the last minute to get in your car and drive to a shelter in the event of tornado conditions. The worst possible place to be during a tornado threat is in a vehicle or outside. 

Sign up for weather, disaster, and other alerts through the Citizens Alerts Program

One of the reasons given for eliminating the public shelters was the significant increase in registered private shelters in Shawnee since the 2013 tornadoes. If you have a storm shelter or safe room at your home, make sure to register your shelter with the City of Shawnee!

Have a plan for taking shelter! Here’s what to do during a tornado.

My friend and colleague Wendy Foreman from Norman, OK shared this great to-do list in the event of a significant tornado threat:

  • Pack a bag of clothes for a few days
  • Make sure you wear gym shoes with socks in case you end up having to walk out of a disaster zone
  • Photograph and/or take video of your home and belongings, and if possible, upload the video to the cloud (or private YouTube, etc.)
  • Gather important papers and have them with you: insurance information, passports, birth certificates social security cards and car titles
  • Charge all phones, laptops and extra battery packs

Stay safe, neighbors!