Byrne working with Enid organizations to seek storm shelters for community

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Byrne working with Enid organizations to seek storm shelters for community

July 12, 2011

Sean Byrne
Working with Enid organizations and churches, Sean Byrne, a graduate student at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and executive director of the United Way of Enid and northwest Oklahoma, has established the "Shelter from the Storm Project" to provide storm shelter locations for Enid citizens.

Sean Byrne, an Enid graduate student at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and executive director of the United Way of Enid and Northwest Oklahoma, has found a need in Enid and is working with area churches and business owners to establish a new program to address concerns for storm shelters in the community.

As a result of the devastating tornadoes that affected many Oklahoma communities this past spring and early summer, Byrne began working with various organizations including the Enid area Emergency Management personnel, the City of Enid and local business and non-profit agencies to determine community tornado shelter areas.

“This is a true community partnership,” Byrne said.

“Working together we can make a difference that none of the organizations by themselves could and, together, we can mobilize resources we already have to address this identified need.”

Byrne established the "Shelter from the Storm Project" for Enid which is a component of the "United for a Safer Community" comprehensive plan.

This project will identify public storm shelter locations across the city and make the information available to the public through a systematic public relations plan of action.

Currently, there are approximately 12 churches and other organizations that have designated basements as community storm shelters.

“We’ve had a fairly good response so far,” Byrne said. “However, we are struggling to get places on the west side of town that have basements.”

Families and individuals will have access to storm shelters if they do not have a shelter or basement at their place of work or home as a result of this project. 

Through a class at Northwestern taught by Dr. Kay Decker, professor of sociology and Department of Social Sciences chair, graduate students are encouraged to develop realistic projects that will make a significant impact on their community. Byrne, who has worked in community mobilization for over 15 years, was enrolled in this class and decided to write about the project that was already under development through his agency and would soon become a reality.

“Sean's efforts will certainly help the community of Enid when storm season comes around next year,” Decker said.

Byrne believes this project is a great way to educate individuals on how community interventions take place.

“I want to encourage students to look at their own communities and see where they can make a difference,” Byrne said.

“You don’t have to be a professional; students can identify what they are passionate about and partner with others to go for it.”

For more information about the "Shelter from the Storm Project" or to list an Enid business or church as a community storm shelter location, contact Byrne at (580) 237-0821 or sean.byrne@unitedwayenid.org.

-NW-