County will add three more storm shelters soonBy Emily Reed Published 2:06pm Friday, September 13, 2013
Construction for three new storm shelters in Chilton County should begin next week with the shelters ready to be used in roughly two months.
During the Chilton County Commission meeting on March 25, commissioners approved a bid to Aqua Marine Enterprises Inc., a company out of Danville, for storm shelter construction.
Brent Mitchell, who is vice president of Aqua Marine Enterprises, will build the shelters and Lee Helms with Lee Helms Associates will serve as the project manager.
Both Mitchell and Helms met up with Chilton County EMA director Bill Collum on Tuesday at each of the three proposed sites to work out all of the details before construction on the shelters will begin.
The construction of the storm shelters for the county is based off a 75/25-percent grant match with the state paying 75 percent of the construction and the county paying 25 percent.
Currently, the county has six storm shelters and plans to add 11 more so that each resident in the county is only a 5-minute drive from a shelter.
Earlier this year, the county received word that the first three shelters were approved for Gov. Robert Bentley’s Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) that gives money to counties to pay the 25-percent match, allowing the first three shelters to be at no cost to the county.
“This is great for our county because we do not have to pay any expense for these first three,” Collum said.
Locations for the first three shelters will be in Verbena, Isabella and Higgins Ferry Road near Lake Mitchell.
The shelter or safe room to be built in Verbena will be located at 3885 U.S. Highway 31 next door to the Verbena Fire Department.
Mitchell said the three shelters will all meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards and will seat roughly 100 people.
Isabella’s shelter or safe room will be located near the old Ag Building at 1960 County Road 29.
The storm shelter or safe room projected to be built at Higgins Ferry will be located near the campgrounds at 11019 County Road 28 and near a weather siren.
Collum said all three shelters will have five people responsible for opening and closing the shelters in the event of a storm.
In Chilton County, when the National Weather Service issues a severe thunderstorm warning, the shelters are unlocked by one of the five responsible for each particular shelter but do not have to be manned.
“When we have a tornado warning in the county, the shelters are then manned and a log is kept of who is entering each shelter,” Collum said. “A log of who enters is kept to have a record of who was in the shelter in case people end up missing then we can revert back to the log.”
Collum said the goal is to have enough shelters so when a person hears the storm warning or the weather siren, then they can make it to a nearby shelter quickly.
All three shelters being constructed will be above ground community safe rooms.