Oklahoma Lawmaker, Manufactured Housing Assoc. Tackling Tornado Safety

Oklahoma State Rep. Pat Ownbey and the Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma Board of Directors’ are seeking to develop sample emergency plans for mobile home communities to prevent deaths in the event of a tornado or other disaster.

Ownbey said that because the organization has voluntarily agreed to do what he proposed in a bill last year, he does not plan to push the legislation again.

“My concern has always been for the safety of those residents in manufactured housing parks and I filed legislation after the Lone Grove tornado that killed seven people in a mobile home park,” Ownbey, R-Ardmore, said. “The legislation gained a great deal of support in the Legislature but failed to make it through the full process before the last days of session. After it failed, I sought the support of the Manufactured Housing Association and am proud to say that I have got it.

“My decision to not reintroduce was made because of their assistance in getting this done on a voluntary basis. My concern, along with Manufactured Housing, was that my bill would have inadvertently created a liability for manufactured housing parks.”

The Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma will partner with the Oklahoma Emergency Management Association and implement a program to get the word out to the estimated 600 communities throughout Oklahoma.

The two organizations will be sending a sample emergency plan to each community and encourage the owners to enlist the assistance of local or county emergency management officials to help assist with developing a voluntary plan to address any natural or man-made disaster.

David Barnes, the director of Oklahoma County Emergency Management, is working with the Manufactured Housing Association on the sample plans. He said ensuring residents have access to multiples sources of information on weather conditions and knowledge of where they can go in the event of a disaster is crucial.

The Manufactured Housing Association of Oklahoma Board of Directors agreed to Ownbey’s recommendation on Dec. 13, 2010.

“We’re looking at a couple of primary factors,” Barnes said. “One is awareness. It is extremely important that people can access multiple sources of information regarding weather conditions and warnings. The other things people need to know is where a close source of shelter is.”

Barnes said that programmable all-hazard radios are inexpensive and allow individuals to program codes specific to where they live to get local weather information. He said personal electronic devices now have access to warnings and weather updates.

Ownbey said he is confident that this collaboration will lead to greater safety for mobile home and manufactured home residents.

Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives