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State Emergency Operations Center Activates

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The State Emergency Operations Center activated at noon on Monday because of the winter storm.

Agencies represented at the State EOC include the Oklahoma Military Department, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, Salvation Army, American Red Cross and other disaster relief agencies.

Representatives from each agency get together in the offices off a tunnel underground between two of the state capitol buildings.

From there, they're able to work together to facilitate any requests for help.

"You have one stop shopping for any state resources necessary, whether it be generators, food, water, whatever it might be that you need in your community," Emergency Management Director Albert Ashwood said.

"We've had reports of snowdrifts that are pretty tall out west and blowing snow," Captain Paul Timmons said with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Captain Timmons was stationed right next to a representative with the Oklahoma National Guard.

"By sitting next to each other, we're able to cross talk," Major Heather Arndt said with the National Guard.

So when a report like 15 stranded motorists in the Clinton area comes in, OHP and the National Guard can work together for a quick rescue.

"We're able to help them get people off the roads, take them to a shelter, take them somewhere safe," Major Arndt said.

The center is equipped to handle pretty much everything, down to shelter for pets.

The Department of Agriculture is part of the center for the first time.

In past storms, they've even helped ranchers with livestock.

"We were actually hauling hay in helicopters and dropping it to the stranded livestock up there," state veterinarian Dr. Rod Hall said.

Members of the center get regular weather updates from their manager.

They will monitor radar and observe the main highways from monitors throughout the night.

"We have snacks and a pillow and a blankie," Debi Wagner said with the State Department of Health.

The Department of Health helped with a request Monday evening from Presbyterian and Saint Anthony's hospitals for 130 cots for staff that planned to stay at work overnight.