The city of Killeen was forced to enact its emergency plan twice in less than 24 hours and spring into action.
On Wednesday evening when a gunman opened fire at Fort Hood, the post was put on lockdown forcing the city to immediately enact its emergency plan. The city put its well-oiled plan into action at 8 p.m., opening up the Killeen Community Center as a shelter for people who couldn’t return to post.
Hilary Shine, spokeswoman for the city, said Killeen has “a very large operational plan” involving all city departments in place so that it can leap into action at a moment’s notice.
“Since the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting (on Fort Hood) there has been a much more regional focus,” she said. “Fort Hood, Killeen, the surrounding communities, the school district and the hospitals all work together on emergency preparedness prior to an emergency occurring.”
Shine said there are a number of measures in place now that weren’t there five years ago.
“We made changes then to be more efficient,” she said.
On Thursday, the city, still reeling from the previous night’s shooting, was forced to turn around and spring into action again.
The shelter was re-opened around 9:30 a.m. Thursday for residents who were evacuated in northern Killeen after police responded to a call of a suspected explosive device.
Shine said 14 people utilized the shelter Wednesday, and six Thursday.
“A lot of times people have options, they can go to a friend’s house or they can go stay with a family member but often there are people who don’t have a place to go,” she said. “We, as a city, feel strongly about providing an alternative when someone is required to leave their home for their own safety.”
Shine said the shelter offers displaced people a “place of comfort to ease
the discomfort they’re feeling.” Shine said the city opening the shelter several times throughout the winter to provide a warm place for locals without somewhere to escape the elements helped them be prepared to provide a safe place.
“This past winter absolutely practiced our plan,” she said. “All of our systems were in place and ready to go when this unfortunate event required that we man the shelter.”
Contact Natalie Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7555