Communities consider whether or not to build storm shelters


Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - David Dycus

CARLISLE COUNTY, Ky. — Pointing past the railroad tracks, Melissa Rowland draws an imaginary path with her fingertip.

"It hit one house over there. We dodged a missile. It could have been so much worse," she said.

But nearly one year after an EF2 tornado touched down there, some of that damage remains.

"It tore all the awnings off the building, blew out all the front of the windows," she said.

But Rowland, the county's emergency management director, said the damage is the least of her problems. She is more concerned about the next storm, but said constructing shelters does not seem to be the answer.

"We have so many people that are spread so far out in the county, it wouldn't be worth risking them to get to the shelter."

Paul Carter, the emergency management director in McCracken County has a different take.

"It wouldn't be that much of a problem for our county."

Carter told Local 6 he is considering applying for a federal mitigation grant that could provide above-ground shelters on county and city land in centrally-located areas. The plan is so early, Carter has not even begun paperwork, therefore, he is unable to comment on a possible cost.

"I would see five as being very good for our community, the whole county," he says of the ideal.

The federal grant requires a 12 percent match. It is hard to get but he said Tuesday, "The fact we just had a tornado should help our cause."

Rowland said she will not be counting on grant dollars to keep people safe but rather her community.

"Get to know your neighbors," she said. "That's what Carlisle County is all about, helping each other out and we've always done that. We'll continue to do that."

Local 6 did check in with a number of emergency management directors who said it is impractical to have a shelter in rural counties like Graves, Marshall and Ballard because the window of a storm is too narrow for people to make it to a shelter. Those families are better off riding it out in their own homes.