Area residents relying on personal shelters during severe wx - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Area residents relying on personal shelters during severe weather threats


Three people lost their lives in Alabama in this latest round of severe weather. Alabama's track record of deadly tornadoes has some stepping it up when it comes to having a safe place to seek shelter.

Residents at the Myers Country Acres mobile home community in Elmore County packed a shelter during the rough weather Monday night into the early morning hours of Tuesday. They hunkered down for hours as they waited for the storms to subside. 

"They brought their kids, their puppy dogs, whatever they valued," said park owner Billy Ray Myers.

Severe weather safety is something Myers takes very seriously after four residents were killed in an EF-4 tornado on April 27, 2011. That's why he made the shelter- a cargo shipping container buried into the side of a hill.

"We couldn't have that happen again," he told WSFA. 

From food and water, to pillows, blankets, teddy bears and helmets, the shelter remains prepped for any future threats. Nearby, Myer's son built an underground bunker, another safe place when dangerous weather looms.

"Sixteen inch floor in it, solid concrete all the way through. We had people from Santuck, the other side of Central, we had 17 people and 5 dogs," Myers said. 

The April 2011 tragedy continues to unite the community, the neighbors always willing to lend each other a helping hand. 

"The shelter is not open just to this park. If somebody is in this neighborhood and something like that is coming up, they're more than welcome to come in. As long as we've got room, we'll put them in. If it's bad weather, we need people to come in. That's what we built it for," Bill Ray Myers added. 

At a home off of Carter Hill Road in Montgomery, an above-ground shelter in the carport gives the homeowner  a safe place to stay. The bolts in the floor go eight feet down into the ground. The previous owners had the shelter built in the 90s when a tornado damaged their house and the home next door. 

"It makes me feel safe. I get in there will all of my dogs and put three bars down across the doors to barricade us inside. We used it last night. I like that it's here," resident Amy Ray said. 

And personal bunkers and shelters aren't the only ones being used. The Chilton County EMA director said that whenever there is a tornado warning there, all of the county's community tornado shelters are open to the public.  

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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