Scottsboro opens their first public storm shelter
The first public severe weather shelter opened in Scottsboro, Alabama last week. It was open and available for use just in time for the EF-1 tornado that tracked through Jackson County, Alabama, last week early on Tuesday morning.
The shelter has been in the plans for the city of Scottsboro for a few years.
"I think the recent tornadoes, certainly 2011, was an impetus for a lot of shelters to be built throughout the county and for the city of Scottsboro to be seriously considering doing it," Jim Olyniec, project manager for the city of Scottsboro for special projects, said.
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The parcel of land the shelter is built on was purchased from Randall's Chapel United Methodist Church, allowing the project to come to fruition this year. The physical shelter cost $80,000 and was paid for by city funds. Additional work for preparing the site and shelter was donated by the water, sewer, gas board, power board and the city.
The crew prepared the site and laid the concrete foundation for the shelter unit.
"The unit that you see here all came in one piece," Olyniec added. "It came on a trailer and was set with a crane in one piece on the concrete foundation."
The foundation is more than a foot thick, and Olyniec says the shelter is anchored down substantially. Although the shelter sits above ground, which helps prevent against damage over time from soil moisture, it can easily withstand the elements of a tornado.
"The use of it is dedicated towards severe weather, tornadoes specifically. It is designed for 250 mile per hour winds, [which is an EF-5 tornado]" Olyniec explained.
One hundred people can safely shelter inside, and it features an air ventilation system and toilet. The shelter typically runs on permanent power, but they are prepared just in case.
"On the back side is a generator back up, so if permanent power is lost, the lines go down, then the generator will kick in and supply power to this site."
The city is planning to add more shelters in the future, and there is room for a second shelter to be built at the same site as the first one. There are other shelters located throughout Jackson County that are open and available for use during severe weather situations.