RUSSELLVILLE — Franklin County Emergency Management Agency Director Roy Gober said the deadly April 2011 tornado forever changed the lives of many county and northwest Alabama residents. It also made some people more fearful of severe weather.
In an effort to provide better warning when severe weather threatens, Franklin County commissioners gave Gober approval to secure money for more outdoor sirens and community storm shelters. He reported earlier this week that he has found enough money for four sirens and two safe rooms.
County officials said the money is coming through the Hazardous Mitigation Grant, which is under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s jurisdiction.
Commissioners are expected to approve the grants at next week’s meeting.
Gober said there will be 29 sirens countywide when the four additional units are installed. There will be five community safe rooms.
“This does not count the sirens that are already operational in the municipalities of the county,” Gober said.
The four new sirens will be placed in the Halltown community, Frankfort Volunteer Fire Department, the East Franklin community near Franklin 38 and Franklin 81 and on Franklin 48 in the Bethsaida community.
Gober said there already are three safe rooms installed at volunteer fire departments in Pleasant Site, Burnout and near Belgreen High School.
“We hope to add one at Tharptown Fire Department and another at Frankfort Fire Department,” Gober said. “We hope to add five more next year.”
Gober said there have been about 100 safe rooms installed by individuals throughout the county.
Franklin County Commission Chairman Barry Moore said the county is trying to be proactive in providing shelters.
“These sirens and community safe rooms give them an opportunity to be prepared in case of severe weather,” Moore said. “We hope no one ever has to go through what we did in 2011 again. But if we do, we hope we are better prepared to alert our residents and provide them with shelter.”
Gober said without FEMA funding is critical to the process.
“We’re trying to do all we can while the funding is available,” he said. Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.