Lack of storm shelter in Tarrant raises concerns after deadly tornado, officials cite lack of funds

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TARRANT, Ala. (WIAT) — Neighbors in Tarrant are reaching out to city hall and CBS 42, wondering after so many close calls with tornadoes why their city still doesn’t have a storm shelter.

“It’s kinda scary living in a place where most of the buildings around here and houses are wood frame at best,” said Tarrant resident Randy Weaver.

Back in January, the city of Fultondale, mere minutes from Tarrant, was hit with a EF-3 tornado, destroying homes, businesses and even claiming a life.

It’s what prompted Weaver to call CBS 42 looking for answers on why his city doesn’t have a storm shelter and what it would take to build one.

“The tornado shelter should be something now,” he explained. “‘Cause we might not be here next year.”

Tarrant Mayor Wayman Newton said his office has also received phone calls asking about building a storm shelter.

“The issue was always money,” he told CBS 42.

He hopes, however, that will change with the help of county officials.

“We’ve had talks with county officials; we’ve (been) looking into applying to grants through FEMA,” Mayor Newton explained.

District Four Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight said in an email that Jefferson County has set aside funds but not included Tarrant in the current plans to build shelters: “We have appropriated $1.8 million for storm shelters in the 2022 fiscal year. Tarrant will be included in future plans.”

At this time, Mayor Newton said there is no timeline for when the shelter could be built, as they still need to plan how it will be paid for. He also told CBS 42 a storm shelter that holds 100 people could cost around $150,000-$200,000.

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