Shelters must be accessible during warnings

Published 1:24 pm Thursday, June 14, 2012

Chilton County has done a great job of building community storm shelters across the county. It’s a blessing our residents have that citizens in other places do not.

During severe weather, the shelters protect those who might not have any other safe place to go — they save lives.

Nowhere is that clearer than in Maplesville, one of the hardest hit places in Monday’s tornadoes. Almost 150 people rode out the storm in the shelter, which even had a tree fall on top of it.

The shelter and everyone inside it emerged unharmed after the storm’s fury had passed.

But at least two community storm shelters were not open or not accessible for all or part of Monday’s severe weather outbreak.

Thankfully, no one was seriously injured from the two tornadoes that struck Chilton County. But next time, we might not be as fortunate.

Now is the time to evaluate the response from Monday’s storms and look for ways to improve for the future. If any changes in how shelters are run and operated are needed, now is the time to do so.

Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time Chilton County is hit by severe weather. No one should rush to a storm shelter during a tornado warning only to find that they can’t get inside.