OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – It has been predicted the Muscogee Reservation and most of the state of Oklahoma will face severe winter weather this week.
According to Muscogee (Creek) Nation Emergency Management Supervisor Bobby Howard this will include a “winter mix” of rain, freezing temperatures, possible sleet, snow and ice over a period of three days.
Being tied in with the Tulsa National Weather Service and the National Weather Service, Howard is included in daily weather briefings on what is predicted to happen.
“Monday and Tuesday should be fine,” Howard said. “However, Tuesday is when we should see that rain start to come in during the afternoon and temperatures drop that night.”
It has been projected that the state could see six inches of snow, but Howard claims that is changing day to day.
“The problem is the cold air mass keeps speeding up and slowing down,” he said. “As of 5:20 this morning (Jan. 31), the prediction has changed because it has slowed down again.”
Tuesday night into Wednesday morning there will be more ice and sleet expected than snow, but the “big snow” is predicted to start on Wednesday and continue into the night and Thursday morning.
Howard stated that his role is to prepare, assist and recover the Nation during times like these to help minimize the effects of a declared natural disaster.
His department has stocked seven containers across the Nation that stay supplied with toiletry items, blankets, cots, medical supplies, diapers and other necessities for up to an immediate 72 hours.
“We have equipped all the community centers with transfer switches,” Howard said. “I have five generators throughout the jurisdiction and each will run a whole community center.”
Community Centers around the Nation can be used as emergency shelters, if necessary.
Howard advised that members of each community should stay in touch with community leaders as his department has developed emergency weather plans for each center.
According to Howard, individual households can take their precautions as well.
Specifically those with water wells are encouraged to use a light in their well to keep it from freezing.
“Unhook any outside hoses and drip your faucets,” he said. “Make sure your car is fueled and put a couple blankets in there but refrain from traveling at all costs.”
Howard stated if you must travel, communicate point A and B destinations with loved ones in case an emergency occurs on the roadway. Check car batteries, fluids and tires before driving.
“Avoid bringing outside/propane heaters inside because they are not made for inside of the home,” Howard said. “We saw a lot of house fires due to this last year.”
Running too many space heaters in the home can also cause electrical fires according to Howard.
“Don’t forget to have a plan for your animals,” he said. “These negative temperatures can be hard on livestock.”
During last year’s February snow storm, Howard delivered around 50,000 gallons of water throughout the Reservation when many went without due to freezing pipes.
Howard said it can be hard for him to answer each individual need during these times, as he works under declared natural disasters. He encourages citizens to stay in touch with community center leaders and National Council Representatives for individual-based needs.
In cases of natural disaster relief, the MCN Social Services Department has programs dedicated to those effected.
Anyone in need of immediate assistance due to an emergency are advised to contact the local law enforcement agency.
Contacts for National Council Representatives by District can be found at: http://www.mcnnc.com/council-reps.
The MCN Emergency Management webpage includes several links with information on how to prepare the home, car and animals for winter weather: https://www.muscogeenation.com/services/emergency-management/.