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Two Decatur high schools may become public storm shelters

Right now, there are only two public storm shelters in the City of Decatur.

Posted: Jul 22, 2019 9:26 PM

The two new high schools in Decatur could become public storm shelters.

The Decatur School District tells WAAY 31 the city came to them with the request. Right now, there are only two public storm shelters in the City of Decatur, but that could soon change with the additions of Austin High School and Decatur High School.

"I don't know where those are. I would like to know where those are because I do have a family, and I do want somewhere if something does happen, I feel safe to take them to outside of my home," said Shelly Earp, who lives in Decatur.

Earp looks after her two grandchildren and says she doesn't know where she'd go if she needed to shelter down during a storm. She's lived in Decatur her entire life and says if she doesn't know, others probably don't either.

"So, I wonder how many more of us don't know," she said.

Right now, the two public storm shelters are at Decatur City Hall and the Morgan County Courthouse. They aren't enough to house a growing city of roughly 55,000 people.

Decatur City Schools' deputy superintendent, Dwight Satterfield, says they are working to open Austin and Decatur high schools as storm shelters.

Earp lives less than a mile from Decatur High.

"It's like right up the street, you know? That would be great, and I know the boys and my older children, if they needed, they would be safe. They would have somewhere to go," she said.

Satterfield says the school system and the city still are working through how the schools would specifically operate as storm shelters. The two schools are the newest facilities and have built-in shelters.

Satterfield says he estimates 200 to 400 people could be in one, but it's not official yet. Earp says it would be a good start.

"With them going forward with theirs, it might lead others to open their doors and to help the process along, you know, and give us options," she said.

Satterfield says everyone from the school system and city seem to be on board with the idea. There is no timeline of when a vote will be made.

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