The Johnson County Emergency Preparedness Fair drew a large crowd to the Cleburne Conference Center parking lot on Saturday, despite the day of rain.
“When we first opened up this morning, it was really packed,” said Jamie Moore, emergency management coordinator for the county. “Even after it started raining the first time this morning, there was still a good crowd.”
The crowds thinned considerably by the time the second round of rain began to threaten, but Moore said he was pleased with the turnout.
Moore organized the fair as part of National Emergency Preparedness Month in September. He said he also wanted to take advantage of people’s willingness to pay attention to preparedness issues in the wake of natural and manmade disasters in North Texas and Oklahoma this year, from the fertilizer plant explosion in West in April to the tornadoes that hit Hood and Johnson counties in Texas and Moore, Okla., in May.
Domingo Rodriguez, with the North Central Texas Council of Governments’ emergency preparedness department, said he had not expected to see so many people attend the fair but that he was glad they came.
“This kind of event is very timely, especially in light of events that have happened in this area already this year, and this event has the potential to do a lot of good,” Rodriguez said.
Joe Watts with Adventist Community Services said the fair was “really excellent, especially for a first-time event. We are glad we had the chance to be here.”
Watts was attending the fair with his wife, Sherry, and daughter, Larisa. They brought the organization’s disaster response vehicle and allowed attendees to tour the vehicle.
Storm shelter dealers — including Deerebuilt Manufacturing, Barnes Metal Buildings and ArmourGuard — had some of the most popular displays at the event. Deerebuilt dealers Charles Lain and Jason Fox came to Cleburne from Ardmore, Okla., to participate.
“Everyone is terrified of tornadoes, and that’s good for the storm shelter business,” Fox said. “We drove down here because we want to expand our market. And we were swamped as soon as we got here, before we could even get our booth set up. We were out of brochures within the first hour.
“It was worth getting up at 5 in the morning to drive down here.”
Others participating in the fair were Cleburne, Burleson and Keene fire departments, Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Cleburne Lions Club, Burleson’s Survival Depot, the American Red Cross, SERVPRO, Access Midstream, Texas 811, Costco, the Salvation Army, the North Texas Tollway Authority, Johnson County Emergency Services District No. 1 and Lowe’s. CBS Channel 11 meteorologist Larry Mowry also attended.