Surviving the storm: Safe rooms help save lives - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Surviving the storm: Safe rooms help save lives

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM)  - The memories of April's string of tornados are still fresh on many people's minds. One East Alabama community is working to make sure if storms like that hit their area, residents will be ready.

Lee Jernigan relives what it was like to see images of the wreckage after tornados on his television.

"I mean it hurt.  It scared you at home.  I mean it made you think about the safety of your family," said Jernigan.

So, the Russell County resident is looking into buying something to protect his family.

A safe room can be buried, constructed in a home, or bolted into a concrete foundation.  They are built to withstand up to 225 mph winds and durable enough to survive flying debris.

Russell County Commission is applying for grant money from FEMA to help homeowners pay for safe rooms. The county's EMA director, William Alexander, explains, each one costs about $4000 to $10,000, but with the grant, some residents can install their own safe room and get up to $4000 reimbursed from the government.

"In the event that we encounter a storm of that nature, these certainly would be beneficial to protect families from any damage or even loss of life," said Alexander.

With survival stories all over the Internet, Jernigan and his daughter Haley say it is worth the investment.

"[It is]10,000 dollars.  What would happen in 25 seconds after a tornado comes through? You know, you'd lose them," said Jernigan.

"I would be worried about my whole family," said Haley.

The Russell County EMA is only accepting 15 applications to apply for the grant.  If you are not one of those first 15, you will be placed on a waiting list.  The deadline for applications is next week.  For more information on the guidelines to apply please call the Russell County EMA at 334-291-5080.

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