May 7, 2014 9:58:42 AM
VERNON, Ala. -- After more than a year, the above-ground tornado shelter located at Vernon's municipal complex was put to the test for the first time on April 28.
A week later, the Vernon City Council discussed ways to improve the facility, which has a maximum capacity of 80 people.
At the council's scheduled board meeting Monday night, Councilman Robert Covington, who was among an estimated 75 people who took refuge at the shelter, said water accumulated around the outside of the shelter due to the design of the roof and lack of proper drainage in the ground.
Covington also recommended the council explore ways to improve the ventilation in the building.
"It got really hot in there," Covington said. "I recommend, for durability, that I get with the someone in town that does fabricating and get a price of metal roof extension, 4x8 maybe, to make it structurally sound."
The board didn't take any action, but Mayor Glenn Crawford acknowledged the heat issue and the lone exhaust fan in the shelter, which is about 30 feet long and 12 feet wide, according to Covington.
The shelter, which was planned and approved by the previous administration, was constructed through grant monies from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Any changes to the shelter will need to be approved by FEMA.
"We need to go back and make sure we're not getting into a warranty issue," Crawford said. "We'll have to see what we can or can't do with that building. I'm not sure if FEMA will let us put an awning over that."
In other business:
■ The council approved preliminary plans to beautify the grounds at the municipal complex.
■ Unanimously approved a motion to hire part-time lifeguards for the city pool and purchase chemicals to maintain the water. The city will use $1,000 from its miscellaneous fund.
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