County funds storm shelters

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In a unanimous vote Monday, the Dallas County Commission passed a resolution to accept a $301,384 grant to build three storm shelters. One shelter will be in Plantersville, another at Southside High School and the third on Dallas County Road 65 near the Dallas County Horse Arena.

The commission also approved a contract with Grants Management LLC to head the storm shelter project.

“As soon as we are placed under a tornado watch, the shelters are open and remain open till the watch is over,” said Rhonda Abbott, EMA director for the county. “It’s up to the public to decide if they go and when we go.”

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The three storm shelters will serve as an addition to existing shelters, which are at Keith High School and Burnsville Fire Department. Each shelter costs a little more than $100,000 to build, Abbott said, adding that the FEMA funds 75 percent of the money while the county contributes 25 percent.

“We’re providing these places as an alternate place for people to go in severe weather situations and are in danger,” Abbott said.

Before voting on the resolution, Probate Judge Kim Ballard expressed his opinion on the shelters, saying they would be beneficial for the county.

“These three will really make a difference,” Ballard said, addressing the commission. “I know if we wouldn’t have had these shelters in the past then people would have gotten killed.”

Abbott said in severe weather situations these shelters, which can hold 100 people, have the potential to save many lives.

“When you get out in rural communities a lot of people do not have a place to go to protect themselves from severe weather,” she said. “We provide the shelter and have the shelters open so people can utilize them.”

In regards to when the shelters will be completed, Abbott said residents can expect to have these shelters ready by late summer, at the earliest.

“I don’t think they’ll be installed till summer at least, maybe even fall,” she said.

If residents have questions concerning the shelters, Abbott said to contact the EMA office at 874-2515.

“We want the public to use these shelters and make the decision to be safe during severe weather,” Abbott said.