Does Leeds need a storm shelter?

Many communities have designated storm shelters. Should Leeds have one?

Leeds residents awoke to sirens in the wee hours of Sunday morning when damaging winds and possible tornadoes swept through the state of Alabama. And there could be more to come tonight as severe storms are expected to roll through.

Leeds experienced some flooding, specifically near townhomes on Ann Avenue. The flooding caused significant damage to the vehicles of several residents. No other major damage was reported within the city.

The storms created discussion among residents in Leeds as to what safety measures are in place when such an event occurs. Some have raised concern over the need for a public storm shelter, but Mayor David Miller says that such a plan isn’t feasible in a community of 12,000.

“I am much more concerned about putting people in their vehicles and on the road toward a storm shelter with just 12 minutes of notice,” the mayor said on Monday. “That would be unsafe.”

Currently, the only public facility available for use as a storm shelter is Leeds Primary School. Local churches may also be available, but there’s no assurance that those facilities will be open at the overnight hours when a storm may hit. 

As the city continues to grow and assess future needs to accommodate residents, for now, best practices are encouraged in the event of a tornado warning for residents without an underground shelter or basement.

  • If you can safely get to a sturdy building, do so immediately.
  • Get to a small, interior room on the lowest level of the home.
  • Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.
  • Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You’re safer in a low, flat location.
  • Watch for flying debris.
  • Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

Advanced preparedness is also key. Sign up for alerts from the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Pay attention to local meteorologists and identify in advance the plan of action for what your family will do when severe weather strikes.

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