MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - People who live in rural parts of Madison County can feel a little safer when it comes to having a place to seek shelter during a storm. Madison County Commissioners cut the ribbons for the opening of two new storm shelters on Friday.
These shelters will open just in time for the secondary potentially severe season. The second severe weather season peaks during October - November in Alabama.
RESIDENTS REMEMBER THE 2011 TORNADO STORM
The old storm shelter in the Bobo community has been buried in Admore for at least 25 years, some say 50 years, but the shelter is outdated. Walking inside the old shelter can feel just as scary as the thought of another tornado passing over town.
"When we had the tornado, it was very bad," said Ronald Heard, chief of the Bobo Volunteer Fire Department.
The shelter was the only public shelter when the last tornado hit Bobo seven years ago. Many people remember the 2011 storm the most because it leveled some neighborhoods just 15 minutes north of town.
County Commissioner Phil Vandiver said, "Not many people want to build around where there's nothing but slabs."
Heard said the storm was so bad he and his team of firefighters "had to go down there [to Toney, Harvest and other parts of the area] and search for people."
A NEW BEGINNING
The new storm shelter pales in comparison to the old one.
"Residents within a half-mile range have this facility to come to now," said community development specialist Jennifer Barger.
Unlike the old one, Bobo's newest storm shelter is handicap accessible with a bathroom.
Barger said, "It has a generator in case the power is lost and is built to withstand up to 250 miles per hour winds."
HOPING FOR THE BEST
"We know that they're coming," said Vandiver. "We hope we never see them again."
The community of Bobo has replaced its old storm shelter, but there are still neighborhoods at least 8 miles of there that don't have the same level of protection.
The second shelter that opened Friday is in Meridianville. It can shelter hold twice as many people as the one in Ardmore. Its capacity is 187 people.