Tornado safety plans throughout Mid-Michigan - WNEM TV 5


Tornado safety plans throughout Mid-Michigan

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The I-Team discovered an alarming flaw in Michigan. A flaw that puts residents' safety in potential jeopardy.

The state does not require public places, like ballparks and malls, to have an emergency management plan.

"If I were anywhere with a tornado I would want to be at Dow Diamond," said Chris Mundhenk, vice president of marketing for the Great Lakes Loons.

Mundhenk said the park not only had a plan, but a secure structure under the ball park where thousands of people would be safe from a storm.

The challenge he said is communicating with thousands of fans where to go. He said his staff trains for that yearly.

"In terms of the underneath portion of the ball park, extremely safe. If we were in a situation where there needed to be a situation in place for the community at large and we could offer that. The facility is extremely safe," Mundhenk said.

At Dow Diamond the plan is not just a theory. They had to use it on more than one occasion.

"In 2007 there was a tornado warning and we had a shelter plan in place. And in 2009 during a Lizard Fair concert we had over 7,000 people and had a shelter in place during that event," Mundhenk said.

A place you wouldn't want to be in a tornado is a theater. There's a lot of items on the ceiling that could become flying debris in a tornado.

TV5 put the Midland Center for the Arts to the test to make sure they have a plan for the worst.

"We do have everything in place for our staff and volunteers to make sure our guests are safe throughout the night," said Tony Serra, front of house operations manger for Midland Center for the Arts.

Serra said the first thing he would do is check the weather. He would cancel a show if the forecast is rough, but if things take a turn for the worst they have safe areas outside of the theater that are safe during a tornado.

"You are surrounded by brick. The ceiling here has reinforcement above it so we don't have the risk of the can peeling off. Essentially, all around you are protected," Serra said.

Serra said they would bring the performers underground to rehearsal spaces. They said they would also usher guests into a large brick walled coat closet.

"In that sort of classic grade school, sit on your rear end and cover your head," Serra said.

In Midland both venues said they have an action plan in case of a chemical disaster, as well as natural.

"Our plan was kind of crafted around the ballpark. Our location, not only to weather, but our corporate neighbors across the way," Munghenk said.

Without a state requirement in place, residents need to take responsibility for their own safety.

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