Storm shelter coming to the Beauregard area

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 11:39 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2022 at 10:38 AM EDT
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BEAUREGARD, Ala. (WTVM) - Three years ago, a tornado ripped through East Alabama, killing 23 people in Beauregard. While most from the Lee County community have recovered, officials are putting another safety measure in place in the event of any potential future tragedy.

Officials have already ordered another storm shelter to be placed a couple of miles south of where those deadly tornadoes hit. With only one place in the area to go if you cannot shelter in place, officials want to ensure there are multiple shelter options available.

It’s been more than three years since the 2019 Beauregard tornadoes claimed 23 lives.

“The community has come together. They pulled together. I would like to say 80, 85% of the residents have either rebuilt or bought a new home and are back on their property,” said Beauregard Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Holden, adding he’ll never forget the day those tornadoes tore through their area.

“I received a phone call that there was a storm brewing, and there was a possibility that we were going to get hit pretty hard, and at the time, we didn’t know that we were going to get a tornado out of it, much less two,” said Holden.

They’re still in the process of rebuilding, with a community storm shelter being built closer to Beauregard, on Alabama highway 51 near Lee Rd. 137.

“This will actually give those in the community who don’t have shelter at their home somewhere to go. At this point in time the only place people can go is Providence Church basement, and it’s not a true storm shelter, but it’s better than a mobile home,” said Holden.

During Monday’s meeting, Lee County Commissioners voted on funding a pad for that community shelter.

“They’ll be asking for a 20-foot by 40-foot pad to be constructed next to the fire department there,” said Justin Hardee at the meeting.

And they unanimously approved that request to pay for the project. Chief Holden says the community will be more prepared for any weather-related disasters once the shelter opens.

”The March 3, 2019 tornadoes, we had about five minutes leeway from the time they were spotted to the time they were actually on the ground,” said Holden.

Again, that community shelter has already been ordered. But, Chief Holden says it could be a few months before it officially opens.

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