Meeksville storm shelter nearly ready to open

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, July 24, 2019

The long-awaited Meeksville storm shelter is almost ready to open to the public in hazardous weather.

“We’ve been waiting about four years for this,” said Thomas Davis, Meeksville volunteer fire chief. “It’s going to be a big benefit for the community. There are quite a bit of people right around there that live in mobile homes. With this, they won’t have to figure out where they’re going to go when bad weather comes.”

The shelter is currently awaiting water, power and sewer hookups. Once the utilities are “online,” the shelter will be ready for use.

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Davis said the department will be running the opening of the shelter during severe weather threats.

The facility can house up to 100 people and includes two restrooms, two first aid kits and a hand-cranked weather radio.

Davis said the shelter is one of the safest structures in Pike County to take cover in during a tornado event.

“It can withstand up to 250 mph winds,” Davis said. “I’ve been out there the whole week with the guys who installed it. They were telling me they put one in Kansas or Missouri that took a direct hit from an EF4 tornado and it hardly even touched it. They said this shelter that we’ve got is the top of the line in storm shelters right now.”

Although the shelter was primarily built to service the residents of the Meeksville community, Davis said it will also be open to the people of surrounding communities.

“If they can get to it safely it’s there for them,” he said.

A grant to fund the construction of a shelter in the Meeksville area was secured in August 2017 and officials have been preparing the project since then. Construction of the shelter began earlier this year.

EMA Director Herb Reeves said he and county officials are looking at possibly building more shelters through the grant funding in other vulnerable communities.

“We’re hoping to apply for some others in some other areas,” Reeves said. “But this gives the people in that community a safe place until the storm passes.”