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County to get new FEMA storm shelters

As of this week, Crenshaw County will be the recipient of five new FEMA storm shelters, something to look forward to especially since the county does not have any at this time.

According to Crenshaw County Emergency Management Agency Director Jessica Tomlin-Seabrook, the communities of Chapel Hill, Pleasant Home, Weedville, Danielville, and Panola will be the sites for the new shelters.

“Safe-T-Shelter out of Danville, Ala., won the bid to build them, and they’ll be starting this week on the project,” she said.

The shelters, which are meant for immediate protection for a short period of time, will be constructed out of pre-fabricated material, and will be 24x10x8 in size and certified to hold 96 people each, Tomlin-Seabrook said.

“They’ll have two locking doors, which are also handicap-accessible, no windows, and they’ll have two rows of benches on two walls, plus a generator in them,” she explained.

No food or water will be kept in the storm shelters, as they are not meant for long-term use.

“The shelters will be stubbed out so the community can put in indoor plumbing and sewage in the shelter if they decide to,” Tomlin-Seabrook said. “Some communities might want to have camp stew sales or something like that.”

Tomlin-Seabrook said that the full FEMA grant is for seven shelters, with a 75-25 percent match for the county. The full grant is for $562,031, with the county’s match being $140,508. However, at this time, the county only has agreements to place the shelters with these five communities, bringing the county’s match down to $99,365.

One thing Tomlin-Seabrook wants all residents to remember is that there is a big difference between a storm shelter and an evacuation shelter.

“The only Red Cross certified evacuation shelter we have in the county right now is the Crenshaw County courthouse,” she said. “But that is for hurricane evacuations or chemical spill evacuations—not tornado watches or warnings-there is a difference.”

She suggested that all residents have a NOAA indoor weather radio to listen to in the case of severe weather since outdoor warning weather sirens usually cannot be heard inside a building. The NOAA weather radios can be purchased at Lisa’s Radio Shack and Piggly Wiggly in Luverne.