Two storm shelters officially open in countyBy Emily Etheredge Published 3:36pm Friday, April 11, 2014
Two community storm shelters in Chilton County were officially opened on Thursday to be used in the event of severe weather.
The shelters, or safe rooms, located at Higgins Ferry Road near Lake Mitchell and 3885 U.S. Highway 31 next door to the Verbena Fire Department received a final walk-through inspection by the shelter manufacturers.
“We are doing a final walk-through of the shelters and turning the keys over,” Lee Helms with Lee Helms Associates said.
Helms served as the project manager for both shelters.
Dennis Weaver with Safe-T-Shelter safe rooms based out of Danville helped install the shelters at the campgrounds near Lake Mitchell and in Verbena.
“The shelters are tested against 255 mph winds,” Weaver said. “They are tested at a FEMA testing site before being installed to make sure they are going to work like they should.”
Weaver said the shelters can hold roughly 100 people.
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.
The two shelters installed 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.
Helms said on Thursday that both 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 a tornado warning is in effect for the county, the shelters are then manned and a log is kept of who is entering each shelter.
The log serves as a way to have a record of who was in the shelter in case people end up missing.
Both shelters are above-ground community safe rooms.
Verbena Fire and Rescue Fire Chief Allen Goree received the keys at the Verbena storm shelter Thursday afternoon and said he is excited to have the shelter officially opened.
“This is going to be a great thing for this community,” Goree said. “I have already had a lot of interest from different people driving by wondering what was being installed.”