April 7, 2012 10:43:02 PM
With severe weather and deadly tornadoes a common occurrence across the nation, Lowndes County Emergency Management Agency Director Cindy Lawrence said every day is the day to be prepared.
"Severe weather usually starts around April and hurricane season starts in June," Lawrence said. "But every day of the month is severe-weather day. We need to always be prepared for storms and tornadoes."
On April 27, 2011 a deadly series of tornadoes wreaked havoc and destroyed lives and property in a path from Smithville to Tuscaloosa, Ala. Although the last destructive storm to hit Lowndes County was in January 2008, where do the citizens of Lowndes County go when severe weather strikes?
"We do not have any public storm shelters to speak of in the county," Lawrence said. "All of our storm shelters are individually owned. I wish we had a shelter system for the public. But we don't have the funds for it and we do not qualify for grants, because we did not receive any damage in 2011. We didn't take advantage of any grant money after the January 10, 2008 tornado in Caledonia."
Lawrence said the average individual shelter cost between $3,000-$4,500 and not all of the shelters were built below ground.
Tennessee Valley Authority employees will be able to seek refuge in a newly built storm shelter in the county at the Caledonia Combined Cycle Combustion Turbine Natural Gas facility in Steens.
"It's essentially a concrete bunker where TVA workers at the site can shelter in the event of a tornado," TVA spokesperson Mike Bradley said. "It was designed and approved after last year's devastating tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi."
Although there are no public shelters for Lowndes County residents, Lawrence urged citizens to take precaution against violent weather, wherever they are.
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