After the tornadoes of April 27, 2010 swept through, one of the largest employers in the valley wanted to ensure the safety of hundreds of their employees.
Two new storm shelters sit in front of the Equipment Service Shop on the Tennessee Valley Authority Reservation in Muscle Shoals.
A direct result of TVA’s Bill Hickman, seeing first-hand the destruction a tornado can create in both Phil Campbell and Hackleburg.
“We did see buildings ripped off their foundations, just like the ones that we have. As a result of it, we had installed 13 units at 10 different locations,” says Hickman on a tour of the shelters on Wednesday.
Before the concrete bunkers were put in, employees say that there was not really a good place to take shelter.
The office inside the service shop was the only thing to keep forty employees out of harm’s way.
According to Lewis Brown, an employee at the service shop, “We just had a little office room inside of our shop building. It’s just a metal building; it really wasn’t safe at all.”
Since the shelters have been on site, TVA workers have put the shelters to use.
Lewis Brown says he definitely feels safer not being in a cramped office, “It’s a whole different atmosphere; we didn’t have all the fear we had before. Everybody was calm; it was just a real relief.”
Each shelter weighs 77-thousand pounds and is rated to withstand 250 mile per hour winds. TVA spent close to 650-thousand dollars on the 13 shelters and installation.
And now behind six inches of reinforced concrete and steel doors, workers can take comfort in knowing they are safe from potential storms.