Harvest Area Gets New Community Tornado Shelter

HARVEST, Ala. (WHNT) – A welcome sight arrived Monday for people in the Harvest area:  a brand new community storm shelter that will protect dozens of people who’ve had to weather the last two years of violent storms.

It’s a project that’s been in the works at the Harvest Boys and Girls Club near Old Railroad Bed Road since tornadoes ripped through the community last March.  Unlike then, residents now have a place to go to get in out of the storm.

“It’s a great day for the community. It’s great to see the community come together,” said Brittany Camp, the Director of Youth Ministries at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church.  She spearheaded the $67,000 project, paid for with donations and volunteers.

It will house at least 120 people, including Essie Allen, who was on the property at the Harvest Boys and Girls club two years ago on April 27th.

“Oh the building just shook,” Allen recalled.  “But The Lord spared us.  We were in there and oh, God, it was an awful day.”

Having lost five family members in a tornado in 1974, she knows how important it is to have access to a shelter that can withstand an F-5 tornado.

“Oh, I am so excited just knowing we have a place to go if another tornado comes,” she said.

And with tornado damage and debris still visible next door, the 60 children who utilize the Harvest Boys and Girls Club can now look out and see the security of a brand new shelter to protect them from that debris.

The church is still short $15,000.

If you can help or want to donate, please contact the Good Shepherd UMC.

The money for the shelter came from donations, with no help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Officials plan to hold a ribbon cutting for the new shelter on Friday, March first.

Meanwhile, a new storm shelter is in the works at Crosswinds Church on Wall Triana Highway.

A pastor confirmed the church received confirmation from FEMA it will receive about $975,000 in grant money to build a community storm shelter on church grounds.

The shelter will be designed for 480 people.  A pastor submitted the paperwork 11 days after the devastation of April 27, 2011.  A team of organizers is being assembled to lead the project to fruition with the next three years.