Storm shelter much needed

Published 10:03 pm Thursday, April 11, 2024

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An Editorial Opinion of The Demopolis Times

Demopolis got some much-needed good news last week when it learned that $2.7 million has been allocated toward a new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) storm shelter for the city.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Selma) announced that the funding was secured. The shelter was one of 13 community projects funded for the Seventh Congressional District. It is also the largest project in terms of dollars earmarked for this year in the district.

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Tornadoes have a long history with Demopolis and Marengo County. Documented severe storm history goes back as far as the 1860s and includes a great tornado outbreak of 1932, during which an F3 tornado touched down and killed three people. 

Last year, two tornadoes were reported in Marengo County, and three more hit the county in 2022. Three years ago, observers were able to capture video of an EF-0 tornado that touched down just outside of town.

With all of the tornado activity over the years, it is easy to see why such a storm shelter is needed, especially when you consider the number of mobile homes that are in the county. According to the U.S. Census data, about 29 percent of the homes in the county are classified as mobile homes. Mobile homes are not a safe place during a severe weather outbreak. 

This week is the 50th anniversary of the Super Outbreak, the outbreak that set the standard for the 2011 Super Outbreak. Yesterday, we were predicted to have a slight risk of severe weather, but we aren’t out of the woods. The peak of the severe weather season continues through May.

This storm shelter can’t get finished fast enough. 

We are thankful for all of the city and county leaders who worked with Sewell to get the federal funding. There are numerous success stories of how community storm shelters have saved lives, and we are looking forward to having a storm shelter here in Demopolis.