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Storms show need for public shelter
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With Warren County dodging tornadoes for the second time in three days, Warren County Emergency Management Agency director Percy Phifer says it’s time public shelters are considered.
“There were a lot of people with no place to go to take cover,” said Phifer, noting tornado warnings were issued for Warren County several times Friday into the evening hours. “We came out great with just some minor damage and a few trees down, but it had us notice the need for some type of place for people to go.”
Tornadoes were reported north near Cookeville and south near Ooltewah on the outskirts of Chattanooga. Just two days before, on Wednesday, a tornado hit just north of Warren County near Smithville claiming the life of a woman whose home was blown down an embankment
Of concern to Phifer is the numerous people who live in mobile homes which experts say should be abandoned when tornado warnings are issued. The question, Phifer noted, is where people can go to ride out the storm.
“People need to figure out where they are going to take shelter before the storms hit. They need to have a plan,” Phifer said, noting the plan could be to go stay with friends or relatives in a sturdy structure, or perhaps take refuge in their church, provided it is sturdy.
While Phifer said some churches do provide haven for those fleeing storms, there is no official storm shelter.
“We can provide shelter after a storm but there’s nothing for when the storm is coming,” Phifer said, noting he would like to figure out something that can be done to provide shelter to the public. “We need to work on that because there are going to be more storms.”
Phifer can be reached at EMA headquarters at 473-8446 by anyone who would like to offer suggestions about the public storm shelter issue.