Clanton takes steps for severe weather preparedness

Published 5:10 pm Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Clanton could be much more prepared for severe weather after free alert radios are distributed and new shelters are built in the coming months.

Mayor Billy Joe Driver updated the city council on both projects at the council’s last meeting, on Nov. 8.

The radios are set to be distributed the week of Nov. 26 at the Clanton Fire Department. They’re being given away free of charge to every Clanton resident and business.

Postcards will be mailed in the coming days to all addresses where city water bills are sent. Those who receive the postcards should bring them to the fire station during distribution week to exchange the postcards for their weather alert radios.

“We’ll mail them out to everybody that has a water bill inside the city limits,” Driver said about the postcards.

The radios come with batteries and are programmed to alert users about severe weather approaching the Clanton area.

The radios will be tagged with serial numbers so they can be tracked.

Clanton received a grant to help purchase 4,000 radios at a cost of about $102,000. The grant paid for 75 percent of the cost, and the city paid for the remaining 25 percent, about $25,500.

Clanton will also soon see the construction of four new storm shelters.

There is currently one public shelter in the basement of Clanton City Hall in the downtown area of the city.

New shelters would likely be installed near Enterprise Road, in the West End community, in the Lomax community and near City Park.

The location of the shelters is complicated by mandates requiring adequate parking near the shelter and that the city own the property, or at least hold an extended lease.

“We’ve got to pin that down, but those are the basic areas where we would be looking to locate those shelters,” Driver said.

Driver said the shelters would be similar to those that have been installed by the county, meaning they would hold close to 100 people.

Clanton was approved for a grant for the shelter that would see the Federal Emergency Management Agency pay 75 percent of the cost of the shelters and the city pay the remaining 25 percent, which could include work done at the sites.

Driver said much paperwork, including requesting bids for the project, remains before construction could begin.

“I think it will go fast once we get started,” Driver said.

Bill Collum, Chilton County EMA director, said local governments have been fortunate to receive grants to help pay for severe weather preparedness projects.

“I think these are life-saving projects that we got in on,” Collum said. “I hope we never have to use it, but if we do, people will definitely have a lot more options than they used to.”