20 storm shelters approvedacross the county
by James Phillips
Jan 08, 2013 | 2521 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Walker County Commission voted Monday to accept grant funding that would allow for the construction of 20 community storm shelters across the county.

The grant funds, given by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, range from $100,000 to $127,000. The shelters are expected to accommodate 100 people.

Each prefabricated safe room will be approximately 50 feet long, 10 feet wide and 9 feet high. The shelters will include an eight kilowatt generator and will be able to withstand 250-mile-per-hour winds.

Before approving the grants, commissioners discussed who would be responsible for the matching funds on the projects.

Walker County Emergency Management Agency Director Johnny Burnette said the worth of the property and in-kind services provided by the county should cover the matching funds, which will range from $25,000 to $30,000.

“Between how much each property is worth and the work we will put in each site, we should eat up every penny of the matching funds,” said Burnette, who is handling 13 of the grants.

Walker County E-911 Director Roger Wilson said he is working on seven of the grants. He said he has made it clear to the municipalities where the storm shelters will be located that matching funds will be their responsibility.

“If we don’t take care of all the funds with in-kind work, they will be responsible to pay for it,” Wilson said. “Thach (which was previously approved for a shelter) was $87. I’ve told all the people I’m working with that is has to come from the subgrantees and not the county commission.

“If the matching money is more than can be afforded, you can always say it is a ‘no deal’ and send the grant back,” Wilson added.

District 2 Commissioner Dan Wright called the community shelters a “very good idea.”

“These are needed in the county,” Wright said. “It has taken us some time to go through the steps, but we want to get it done and get it done right.”

Wilson said the applications for the shelters have had to be changed on a couple of occasions because of issues beyond the control of the commission. Wilson said there are still questions surrounding whether the applications should be stamped by an architect or an engineer.

“It’s not the county’s fault. They are just caught in a quandary, because the Alabama Legislature passed legislation that says an architect must stamp it, but architects wouldn’t stamp a pre-fab building,” Wilson said.

Burnette said his plan is to construct one shelter at a time.

“We can do one at a time, get our money back on one and then move on with the next one. I think that would be the best route to take,” he said.

Burnette said most shelters will be located on property near fire departments or community centers.

“That will be the best place to have someone there who can open and close the shelters in the event of an emergency,” Burnette said.

Locations for the community storm shelters include:

•607 4th Avenue, Nauvoo

•130 Gum Street, Oakman

•175 Radio Drive, Sumiton

•300 School Road, Cordova

•59 East Columbus Street, Cordova

•1315 Main Drive, Parrish

•240 9th Avenue NW, Carbon Hill

•356 Redmill Saragossa Road, Jasper

•187 North School Street, Kansas

•16767 Highway 69 South, Jasper

•19134 Highway 269, Quinton

•6558 Highway 78, Cordova (Argo)

•6320 Tutwiler Road, Oakman

•283 Park Road, Sipsey

•6848 Holly Grove Road, Jasper

•3725 Old Birmingham Highway, Jasper

•2440 Saragossa Road, Nauvoo

•208 Smothers Avenue, Eldridge

•6670 Old Birmingham Highway, Jasper

•119 Main Street, Jasper (Townley).