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County grant funds better protection during severe weather

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Morgan County officials presented a $15,750 grant to Falkville Fire Chief Terry Lambert last week to help keep residents and motorists safe during severe weather.
Falkville Volunteer Fire Department houses Morgan County's first official Federal Emergency Management Agency certified community shelter.
Built in July 2002, the aboveground shelter is designed to accommodate 50-60 adults and is constructed completely of steel and concrete reinforced concrete block and a solid reinforced steel door with three different deadbolt locks.
The shelter features emergency lights and non-slip flooring. A communication center for emergency officials is situated atop the shelter.
Morgan County EMA Director Eddie Hicks said the grant offset 75 percent of the shelter's construction cost and was provided by the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Program once all guidelines were met.
"The city of Falkville chose to build a community shelter instead of distributing funds to build shelters at individual homes," Hicks said. "I think it's a great idea and the Morgan County EMA is pushing for other areas to follow Falkville's lead and do the same thing. Getting the county prepared for severe weather is a series of small steps. Getting this community prepared is a big step."
Falkville Mayor Roy Cooley agrees that the community shelter is a good idea and said people from across the community feel safer having it in such a central location.
"Wonder World Day Care is behind the fire station, a trailer park is one block away, the school is two blocks away and we have a nursing home just down the street," Cooley said. "People have filled this place up during severe weather. We often have motorists from the interstate and highway stop and ask where to go during bad weather, and now we have a place for them to get off the road and into a safe spot."
While Cooley is glad to have a place for motorists and residents to seek shelter, he is most thankful to be able to provide shelter to nearby children and elderly residents.
"In the 2000 census, Falkville was shown to have the highest percentage of seniors of any municipality in the state," Cooley said. "We now have a state of the art early warning system and shelter to keep them, and the children at the day care, safe. I think we're all glad for that."
Hicks and District 3 Commissioner Don Stisher presented the grant check to Lambert. The FVFD matched the grant with $5,250 of its own funds.
"The fire department is glad to be a community gathering place and communication center in the event of severe weather emergencies," Lambert said. "We think the shelter is already a great asset to Falkville and will continue to be as more people learn that it is here and available to everyone."