By MIKE CORN
When severe storms threaten, as they did earlier this week, a lakeside camper or tent is perhaps the worst place to be.
But there are no officially-designated storm shelters at state parks in the western third of the state, said Troy Brown, regional parks supervisor for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
"It's kind of like a town providing a storm shelter for its citizens," he said.
In other words, there isn't one.
Having said that, however, Brown didn't hesitate to add that park rangers and other park personnel are quick to take to the park roads to alert campers of impending severe weather.
"We try to warn the campers," he said. "Being in a camper is the last place to be when a storm hits."
So what to do?
"We do have a number of our concrete shower houses, rest rooms," he said. "That's something we've been going to the last 10 years."
No, they're not officially storm shelters, Brown said, but they are strong facilities that certainly would offer considerably more protection from advancing storms than a tent or camper on wheels.
"It's a completely concrete building," he said.
And heavy duty.
"I would assume they're going to hold up pretty well," he said. "It's pretty heavy concrete."
Those concrete buildings are available at Prairie Dog, Cedar Bluff, Webster and Glen Elder state parks. Both Meade and Scott state parks have regular shower houses.
Even with that option available, Brown said it's important for campers to be aware of the weather and their surroundings.
"I pay attention because you are out there in the elements," he said. "You don't have the ability to run down to the basement."
And, he said, park rangers aren't always on duty.
What park personnel don't do, however, is tell campers to flee the park, to get on the road in search of shelter.
And there's always Brown's personal choice for protection.
"My preference," he said, "growing up, was a culvert. To me, that was always the safest."