Cities push for new storm shelters after April 28 tornadoes

Local News

GRAYSVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — On the one year anniversary of the April 28, 2014 tornadoes that damaged a number of cities in Jefferson County,  towns are working to create more shelter options for people who have nowhere to turn.

When Graysville resident Larry Marbury hears a storm siren while he’s out on the road, he only has one thing on his mind.

“Find somewhere to get to. Get off the road, find somewhere to get to. Mostly take cover,” said Marbury. “There’s nowhere around here close.”

Graysville has a storm shelter, but it’s miles away from the heart of the city, on Cherry Avenue next to Mount Pisgah Church.

Graysville Mayor Mary Sue Morgan told WIAT that the city was pursuing grant money to build a new shelter in the center of town at the Graysville Community Center, and also one in Graysville East.

Right next door in Adamsville there were a number of people taking shelter on April 28th 2014, in what was then a brand new community safe room.

The structure is right next to the Adamsville senior center, but many people in the area didn’t know it existed.  Adamsville Mayor Pam Palmer told WIAT that the city is seeking approval to put signs up along Highway 78 so that people will know where they can go to find shelter.

Reconstruction in Bessemer is underway at the Timberline West Apartment Complex which was damaged, along with a number of homes on Memorial Avenue. Nearby Carver Park was devastated last April. Today there’s a new press box and things are looking a lot more like they did before the storm.

Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley said the city is resilient- but the storm revealed a need.

“Well, one thing that we did recognize in the midst of the storm is that we didn’t have, we didn’t have a place as a safe house for our citizens,” said Gulley.

Gulley said Bessemer is pursuing grant money to put a storm shelter in place within two years. He envisions a shelter big enough to hold 100 people and plans to put the structure next to the Emergency Operations Center on 9th Avenue.

Annette Davis with the Jefferson County EMA said the agency is collecting information from cities throughout the county to find out what their citizens need to be better prepared.  Davis said the information will be used to create a Hazard Mitigation Plan. The EMA will then relay that information to FEMA. Davis said it’s an important step in securing federal grants for things like storm shelters.

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