Storm Shelters Approved for Colbert County

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TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WHNT) - Colbert County Emergency Management officials have announced plans to build several new community storm shelters, a direct result of the tornado out-break of April 2011.

Just days after the tornadoes, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley wanted answers as to why such devastation could happen and why the state wasn't prepared more adequately.

"One of the topics that came out of the review was, the State of Alabama as a whole, including Colbert County, needed more community storm shelters," Colbert County Emergency Management Director Mike Melton explained.

Melton says he believes for the last twenty years, the focus has been on warning people of inclement weather, not protecting them.

Now he says that gap is closing with six new community storm shelters for the county.

"We're trying very hard to put some out to where everybody does not have a thirty minute drive to get to a safe place."

According to Melton, Colbert County has applied for grants with FEMA to build a total of twenty-two community storms shelters.

With six approved for construction, Melton hopes the next time destructive storms come through, his county will be a little bit more prepared.

"For people that live in mobile homes and stuff like that, I think this is going to help them tremendously and give them some options where to go and what they can do."

Melton wants to get FEMA approval for the other sixteen community storm shelters soon, to provide more rural areas of Colbert County with tornado protection.

Colbert County hopes to begin construction on the six new storm shelters in the next few months.

They must first decide the exact needs of the areas where the storm shelters are going, each shelter will be able to accommodate fifty to one hundred people.