One Middle Tennessee town is stepping up and building a storm shelter for residents in the event of future tornado warnings.
In Maury County, a storm shelter is being built in the eastern suburbs of Columbia. The new shelter will give nearby residents a safe place to come if a tornado is bearing down on their neighborhood.
“Our facility will be designed to be opened when a warning for that area of the county is occurring, and the people can go,” explained Mark Blackwood of Maury County EMA.
He continued, “It is a hardened facility. It is designed as a short term facility, just during the time of the actual warning. And of course, once the warning is past, people will leave and go back to their houses.”
According to Blackwood, the shelter which will be located on Tom J. Hitch Parkway, will only be used by people within a half mile radius, since it may be too dangerous to travel from farther away.
“Obviously, people who live outside that one half mile radius need to seek shelter in their homes, because one of the most vulnerable places would be if they were out on the road,” he said.
The new facility, which is designed to FEMA standards can accommodate 800 people during a tornado warning and is built to withstand winds over 250 miles-per-hour
“Our history tells us it's not a matter of if, but when we are struck by some sort of catastrophic event,” Blackwood said.
The facility will be the first of its type in the state of Tennessee.