Three community storm shelters will be ready to serve soon

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By Donna Thornton/News Editor

With tornado recovery and potential threatening weather still in the news, a little peace of mind may have been delivered to two Etowah County communities, in the form of storm shelters, placed on Tuesday (May 12), to be secured in coming days.

Gadsden-Etowah County Emergency Management personal stood by at Gallant Volunteer Fire Department on Tuesday morning as a crew from Safe-T-Shelter used a crane to lift a 24-foot steel plate shelter from the back of a trailer and place it on a concrete pad behind Gallant Volunteer Fire Department on Gallant Road.

Shelters also were put into place at Coates Bend Volunteer Fire Department on Pull Tight Road and at Macedonia Baptist Church in Coates Bend.

Patrick Huselton of the Gadsden-Etowah County Emergency Management Department said the shelters were funded by grant money made available since the April 27, 2011 tornadoes.

Dennis Weaver of Safe-T-Shelter said the 24-foot shelters have an occupancy of 50, but can hold more people. The shelters have two rows of seats attached to the wall, with additional seating to be bolted in the center of the shelters.

Weaver said these shelters are a very basic model, with no bathroom facilities and no air conditioning. The shelters are vented naturally. The purpose is to provide a place for people to get inside and get safe if threatening weather approaches.

Gallant Volunteer Fire Chief James Smith said he’s pleased to see the shelter installed, because the community has nothing like it to offer security in a storm.

“I’m begging for them to put another one in Gallant,” Smith said. He explained the volunteer fire department’s jurisdiction is half in Etowah County, half in St. Clair, with fire stations in both counties. He would like to see another shelter at the other fire station, about 5.3 miles from the one in Etowah County.

Smith said volunteer fire department personnel will have keys to open the shelter when the area goes under weather warnings

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