Beauregard installs new storm shelters

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 5:38 PM EST
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BEAUREGARD, Ala. (WTVM) - A deadly tornado ripped through East Alabama 4 years ago, killing 23 people in Beauregard.

Since then, the Lee County community has recovered from the physical damage...but officials recently added another safety measure they hope will keep people safe and also reduce anxiety when tornado watches and warnings are issued for the area.

A new storm shelter was installed this morning outside fire station number four just off Highway 51. Officials say the storm shelter provides a last-minute place for residents to find safety during any severe weather event.

“Weather has never bothered me. I’ve stood on a front porch near a storm. Now when tornado warnings are coming through, you treat it a little more different. You treat it more serious because of the lives lost that day,” said Beauregard Resident Brandon Baird.

Next month is the four-year anniversary of the 2019 Beauregard tornadoes that claimed 23 lives, and soon a community storm shelter will be available to people who live in this area.

Pastor Rusty Sowell is a also Member of the Beauregard Fire Department board of trustees, he said he will never forget the day disaster struck the community. He said the tornados came out of nowhere and a last-minute storm shelter was needed in the area.

“We know that not everybody hears the warnings initially, and we don’t want anyone to be caught in an unsafe manner, and to have this here to know its here, I think it’s going to speak volumes in regards to putting people at ease… particularly in this area where there were so many lives that were lost,” said Rusty Sowell.

The storm shelter is next to fire station four, just a couple of miles south of where the deadly tornadoes hit. The storm shelter can hold around 30 to 40 people sitting or standing. It has fans and an emergency exit.

Beauregard Resident Brandon Baird said he can still picture the aftermath of the storm and community members trying to find their loved ones.…

“It was a perfect example of a storm that blew up out of nowhere, and there wasn’t a lot of notice. I know a lot of people in this area live in mobile homes and so for them to have a secure place that they can go a know that in this type of event again, they can feel safe,” said Baird.

Sowell said if any future events were to take place, he wanted to make sure the Beauregard residents were safe.

“We don’t want to forget. We don’t want to forget the ones that died, the ones that were hurt, and we don’t want to forget the ones that helped us when we couldn’t help ourselves,” said Sowell.

It is not officially open to the public yet as they are still working on some final touches, but an official ribbon cutting will be on the anniversary of the tornado next month.