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Thousands of fans who packed Heartland Park left after the races ended Sunday afternoon. Some, however, decided to brave the storm and stay in their RVs overnight.
Director of Emergency Management for Shawnee County, Dave Sterbenz, says it’s important to keep constant communication with event officials when there’s a threat of a storm.
“It’s very important and we’ve been communicating with Heartland Park, sending them all of our e-mails with all of our weather updates,” Sterbenz says. “We actually drove out here last night just to see if they needed anything else. They’re paying close attention, they’ve done a really good job.”
Sterbenz says NHRA and Heartland Park officials worked to make sure the races ended as early as possible Sunday, so fans could try to beat the storm.
“Last night, they ran some races in the afternoon so that they could clear them off the schedule for Sunday, so that they were able to get done a little quicker,” Sterbenz says. “Kind of like what we’ve done with a lot of sporting events, when they’re outside and you’re expecting bad weather, just start rearranging and moving them up.”
While many fans left the race immediately, some fans decided to stay the night Sunday.
“Like we tell everybody, whether you’re in a house or a tent, you need to pay attention to the weather, you need to have more than one way of being notified, whether it’s a weather radio, television, AMFM radio, pay close attention, if you’re outside, of course you’ll probably hear a siren, if you’re in the vicinity, but just know more than one way to be prepared and where you’re going to go or what you’re going to do,” Sterbenz says.
He adds that events like the tornado in Harveyville last year and two years sago in Joplin may make people more cautious this time around.
“It’s amazing, you have to have something really bad to happen before people start paying attention,” Sterbenz says, “But i do think what happened in Joplin two years ago, what happened in Harveyville a year ago, the people are paying a little closer attention and they’re starting to take them a little more serious.”