Storm shelters for Thomaston, Old Spring Hill, Thomaston expected to be completed by February

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, January 18, 2023

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At the January 10 Marengo County Commission meeting, EMA Director Kevin McKinney gave an update on the status of two ongoing storm shelter projects.

McKinney said that paperwork has been filed for the three shelters that he hopes will be funded by a FEMA Hazard and Mitigation grant, and through a grant that was secured by the Black Belt Community Foundation. McKinney said they have made progress on the BBCF grant and that locations have been mapped out.

Edward Oates of the Moore-Wright group and the BBCF reported that the foundation for three locations in Marengo County have been laid. The locations are the Ready Park Community at 44 Golden Road in Thomaston, the Jefferson Community School Center at 507 County Road 57 in Jefferson, and the Old Spring Hill Volunteer Fire Department at 945 County Road 1 in Gallion or the Old Spring Hill community.

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The narrative report handed out during the meeting said that on August 3, 2022, the BBCF received an email announcing that the organization had been awarded $88,000 in matching funds from the Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund for the construction of storm shelters in Marengo, Greene, Hale, and Pickens counties.

In October 2022, Safe-T-Shelters completed the concrete foundations for six storm shelters in the four-county region. The vendor is currently experiencing supply chain issues with the type of paint that will be used to paint the storm shelters before they are delivered to each site.

Oates also reported that no additional funds have been spent since the initial 25 percent down payment. Each grantee will be responsible for paying an additional 50 percent upon delivery of the storm shelters in four weeks. The final 25 percent will be due once the shelters are completed.

“I want to thank the Commission for cooperating with us in this effort. It’s all about our citizens in Marengo County and it’s a benefit that the Commission and grantees have been able to get this for our people. We are really grateful for it,” said Oates.

Currently, no funds have been spent from the GERF (Governor’s Emergency Relief Fund) funds to date. The non-profit organizations have started their initial negotiations utilizing funds from community partners and the BBCF. When the BBCF funds and other matching funds are expended, the GERF funds will be spent for the next phase of the construction project.

Safe-T-Shelters began delivering the shelters in the first week of December 2022 and are scheduled to complete this project in early February 2023 if there are no further supply chain issues.

The FEMA grant, however, could be a much longer process due to “FEMA red tape.” The process could take an additional two years to see results. If the grant is successful, the shelters built by that grant will be placed in Demopolis, Dixons Mills, and Faunsdale.