JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. – Even as the sun shines through the clouds with no storm in sight Friday, the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is working to keep people safe from severe weather.
Employees are hoping to install additional storm shelters at five Kindergarten through 12th-grade schools in the county.
“Which will give us 39 community shelters in Jackson County,” said director Paul Smith.
The metal domed shelters Smith is looking at cost around $101,000 each, but he told News 19 it is well worth it to protect the community, especially those who live in mobile homes.
“They [mobile homes] offer no shelter in severe weather, so it’s important to make sure they’ve got somewhere to go. Just the way they’re constructed, they’re not built to withstand strong wind,” Smith explained.
Section High School already has two but would be getting another one thanks to hazard mitigation funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Other sites include North Sand Mountain High School, Pisgah High School, Woodville High School and Skyline High School.
The inside of the shelters are pretty spacious and can typically hold 250 to 300 people, so it will be a huge benefit for the county to add five more to protect the large coverage area.
“Jackson County is spread out. 1,153 square miles. We are the second-largest landmass county in the state of Alabama. We just need to have those shelters so folks don’t have to drive 10 to 15 minutes to get to one and we’re getting there rapidly,” said Smith.
The new shelters will sit opposite the current shelters on campus to ensure all students are close enough to reach them.
Smith said they have been working to get these five new storm shelters since Spring 2018, but hope to have them by the end of the calendar year.