Unfinished storm shelters opened early

Published 4:13 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Though the storms that rolled through the state on Tuesday were not as severe as feared in Chilton County, Clanton residents had a safe place if needed.

Clanton Mayor Billy Joe Driver said he was glad to have the city’s four new storm shelters open in advance of the storms.

“I had to have them open because if there had been a tornado, folks would have needed somewhere to go,” Driver said.

Forecasts leading up to the storms had the county under an enhanced or moderate risk of severe weather.

A tornado watch was issued Tuesday afternoon but never a tornado warning.

A wind advisory remained in effect most of the day Wednesday.

Driver said he opened the four new shelters well in advance of the storms on Tuesday and locked them back up after the storms had passed, but he wasn’t sure how many residents may have utilized the shelters.

Along with the shelter in the basement of Clanton City Hall, the city has five storm shelters. There are five other shelters in Chilton County.

Work remains to be done at the Clanton shelter sites, including landscaping and tying on to natural gas lines or installing propane tanks—so that the shelters are heated in the winter.

Fans inside the shelters will help keep them cool during summer months.

Even if residents had to go through some mud to get into the shelters on Tuesday—sod still needs to be installed at some of the sites—Driver said that is preferable to not having a safe place.