Pike Co. receives money

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 12, 2000

for severe weather shelters


Staff Writer

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Pike County has received $20,000 for the construction of shelters used in the event of severe weather.

The Hazard Mitigation Funds can be used for the construction or installation of qualifying safe rooms, single family in-ground and aboveground storm shelters and community shelters.

Larry Davis, Pike County’s Emergency Management Agency director, said the grant funds are to be used to reimburse those who construct or install such safety shelters that conform to Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations.

A 25 percent match by the individual recipients is required, Davis said. The Pike County Commission will not provide money for the projects.

The federal assistance for such projects is limited to 75 percent of eligible costs and the maximum allowed for individual safe rooms is $3,500.

If the grant money is divided, it would construct five shelters, Davis said.

Funding was awarded, first, to counties that experienced damage from recent storms and tornadoes. Remaining counties submitting Notices of Interest for the safe room/community shelter project were awarded funds on an equitable basis because of the limitation of funds, AEMA acting director Lee Helms stated in the letter announcing the grant award for Pike County.

"I think it’s a good thing for Pike County," Davis said of the grant funds which will help provide shelter for families.

Davis urges anyone interested in a safe room to contact him about an application. Recipients will be chosen on a need basis.

Most tornadoes occur in March, April and May because of the shift in weather patterns, but they do occur in November and December, when cooler air is invaded by warm, moist air.

Close to 75 percent of the state’s strongest tornadoes have touched down in the spring, leaving debris and death in its wake.

On average, Alabama has 22 tornadoes touch down each year. In 1998, 50 twisters hit Alabama and two were reported in 1950. Of all the tornadoes in the past 50 years, an average of seven people died.

Back in 1971, Pike County was hit by two storms in the same day.

Last year, 43 tornadoes occurred in Alabama, which is double the average. Of those storms, three occurred in the months of January and February, seven in March, 11 in April, seven in November in 12 in December.

Most tornadoes occur in the afternoon between noon and 5 p.m., but no time of day is immune to the killers. With most people out and about during that time of day, it is even more important for people to have a plan in the event they are caught off guard.

The safety rooms can be important in that planning.

"Preparedness is the biggest thing," Davis said. "The only way to be prepared is to plan and practice. It’s kind of like playing football ­ you play like you practice."

A tornado is a violently Whirling column of air seen as a funnel-shaped cloud that usually destroys everything in its narrow path. They usually being as a funnel cloud and are accompanied by a loud roaring noise many describe as sounding like a freight train.