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STORM SHELTERS: Where to go in the Tri-State if you don’t have a safe place

STORM SHELTERS: Where to go in the Tri-State if you don’t have a safe place
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 12:00 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2022 at 5:55 PM CDT
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TRI-STATE (WFIE) - Wednesday is a 14 First Alert Day, which means we have severe storms that will roll through the Tri-State area.

[Tornado, severe weather threat Wednesday afternoon-evening]

Daviess County EMA director Andy Ball says putting together an emergency plan for severe weather should be just as routine as an average day plan.

“You should have a plan for home, where you’re going to shelter at home, work, if you go to school whether that’s primary or secondary school, and in between,” said Ball.

Above all, Ball says the safest place you can be is the lowest location possible.

“Below ground is the best. Bottom line. You’re much more protected. Now there’s still that chance of things falling down on you if the upper structure is swept away. But, the best chance that you get to survive a strong EF3, EF4, even an EF5 tornado, would be to be below ground as much as possible,” said Ball.

Wherever you are located when severe weather strikes, Ball wants to remind everyone to stay weather alert and follow the guidance.

“During a tornado warning, it is important that if you hear the sirens, if you hear your weather radio going off, your smartphone app is going off, or you’re watching the news and the meteorologist says hey there’s a tornado warning in your area, seek shelter. Follow that advice, seek shelter, don’t wait,” said Ball.

If you don’t have a severe storm safe space, here is where some local EMA officials recommend you go.

If your county or city doesn’t have a recommendation, many EMA directors say to seek shelter at a friend or family member’s house that has a basement. Or, check with your church to see if they will be providing any shelter.

  • Spencer County, Ind. (source: county emergency management)
    • Grandview United Methodist Church: 424 W Main St., Grandview. Enter through basement door.
    • Trinity United Methodist Church: 124 S Fifth St., Rockport. Use the Walnut St. entrance to the basement.
    • Chrisney Baptist Church: 308 S. Main St., Chrisney. Enter south door to the basement.
    • Santa Claus United Methodist Church: 351 N Holiday Blvd. Use main entrance.
  • Ohio County, Ky. (source: county emergency management)
    • Ohio County Community Center Basement, 130 E. Washington Street, Hartford, KY 42347.
  • McLean County, Ky. (source McLean County 911 Facebook page)
    • Calhoun Baptist Church located at 315 Main St, Calhoun, KY 42327.
    • Sacramento Cumberland Presbyterian located at 40 Lyons Ln, Sacramento, KY 42372.
    • Sacramento Baptist located at 15 Main St, Sacramento, KY 42372.
    • Beech Grove Christian Church in Calhoun, KY.
    • Livermore Baptist located at 611 Hill St, Livermore, KY 42352.
    • Pleasant Hope located at 178 Pleasant Hope Church Road, Calhoun, KY.
    • Community Church located at 2988 State Route 136 East, Calhoun, KY.
    • Methodist Church in Sacramento told 14 News they’ll be at the church for bible study this evening. They said if they’re while it is storming, they’ll let people in. It might be best to call ahead. The church is located at 60 Main St, Sacramento, KY 42372.
    • Island Baptist Church’s pastor posted to Facebook announcing the church will be opening their basement this evening. They’re located at 170 Adams Ave, Island, KY 42350.
  • Daviess County, Ky. (source: county emergency management)
    • Yellow Creek Baptist Church, 5741 KY-144, Owensboro, KY 42303.
    • Heritage Baptist Church, 3585 Thruston-Dermont Road, Owensboro, KY (6 – 10 p.m.)
    • St. Stephen Cathedral basement south entrance, 610 Locust St, Owensboro, KY (7 – 10 p.m.)
  • Henderson County, Ky. (go to the Henderson city or county websites to verify if the shelters below are open)
    • The Gathering Place, 1817 N Elm St, Henderson, KY 42420.
    • The Salvation Army, 1213 Washington St, Henderson, KY 42420.
    • The John F. Kennedy Center, 515 S Alvasia St, Henderson, KY 42420
  • Hopkins County, Ky. (Dawson Springs Independent Schools Superintendent Leonard Whalen)
    • Dawson Springs High School will be used as a tornado shelter if needed. Click here for more information.
    • Hopkins County Government Center (46 North Main Street in Madisonville) will be open to the public during a severe weather event. All residents are invited to use the building for shelter through Wednesday’s severe weather.
    • Officials say Hopkins County Government Center is a well-protected building but not a certified storm shelter. Visitors will be asked to sign in.
    • Hopkins County Schools will open Madisonville North Hopkins High School and Southside Elementary School gyms from 6 p.m. until the severe weather threat passes. Residents will also have to sign in upon entering.
    • Officials want to remind residents that these buildings are tobacco, drug and alcohol-free. No pets or weapons will be allowed. Everyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a guardian.

14 News has reached out to available emergency management contacts in each Tri-State county. Some have not returned our calls yet. This list could be updated as we hear back from county officials.

Officials on the Daviess County Emergency Management Agency Facebook page made a post about where to go during a tornado in multiple situations that could be helpful to anyone in the Tri-State.

You can read those tips below.

In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you. Head protection, such as a helmet, can boost survivability also.

In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. If you have a metal bath tub, that may offer a shell of partial protection, but not plastic or fiberglass ones, which are easily penetrated by projectiles. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury.

In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.

In a mobile or manufactured home: Get out! Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building. Go to one of those shelters, or to a nearby permanent structure, using your tornado evacuation plan. Your plan could include staying with someone who is in a sturdy permanent structure, if a tornado threat is forecast. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. This mobile-home safety video from the State of Missouri may be useful in developing your plan.

At school: Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or windowless room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.

In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.

In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.

In a shopping mall or large store: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.

In a church or theater: Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.

AFTER THE TORNADO...

Keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Carefully render aid to those who are injured. Stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them; they may still be carrying electricity! Watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects. Stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings; they could collapse at any time. Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby. Remain calm and alert, and listen for information and instructions from emergency crews or local officials.

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