Storm shelter policy won't change following damaging thunderstorm

The Morgan County Emergency Management Agency is not going to change when they open up storm shelters to the public.

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 10:06 PM

One week ago, severe storms blew through the Tennessee Valley.

In Decatur, they had hurricane force winds, which left a trail of destruction.

During the entire storm the Morgan County Emergency Management Agency did not open storm shelters.

WAAY 31 found out why.

Kim Allen cleaned up the last bit of debris at her house from the storm on Tuesday.

She said it was a frightening experience last Tuesday night.

"It was really loud," said Allen.

Things are always different in hindsight, but she said she would have liked to go to a storm shelter, but the Morgan County Emergency Management Agency didn't open them.

The director told WAAT 31 their policy is to only open them when there is a tornado watch, or warning, by the National Weather Service.

For the storms last tuesday,"they issued the thunderstorm watch, so we did not activate our operations center at that time, so if we had of we would have opened the shelter at that time for people to go ahead and take shelter if they needed it," said the Director of the Morgan County Emergency Management Agency Eddie Hicks.

If the storm shelter had been open people would have made their way to the basement of the Morgan County Courthouse via the stairwell and gone right into an auditorium across the hall.

"How much safer would you have felt in the shelter versus your own house," asked Kody Fisher.

"Ten times safer," said Allen.

On top of not meeting the criteria to open up shelters, the storm was also surprisingly powerful.

"Out of 40 years this is the first one that really happened to this extent and we were watching it all the way coming in from mississippi. There were indications that there were strong winds, but they were not as strong as they were till they got right here," said Hicks.

Allen told WAAY 31 she's thankful the storm didn't seriously injure anyone, but because it could have she would like to see the Morgan County EMA change their shelter policy to include storms like this.

"They should adjust it to where if there's a potential for severe weather that we could have shelter if we felt that we needed to be in a shelter," said Allen.

The Morgan County Emergency Management Agency told WAAY 31 they're constantly evaluating their policies, but the storm that blew through will not change when they open up storm shelters. 

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