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Storm shelters in Mid-Missouri provide safety in severe weather

With severe weather season here in Mid-Missouri, ABC 17 News is checking in on community and personal storm shelters in the area.

In Boone County, there are no official community tornado shelters. Deputy Director Josh Creamer of the Boone County Office of Emergency Management said that is because of a lack of funding.

“FEMA has very specific specifications on what would be a community safe room,” Creamer said. “And in order to meet those standards it’s fairly expensive.”

Since there are no official community shelters in the county, Boone County residents should have a plan of where to go before a tornado comes, Creamer said. That could be mean a nearby open business with a stairwell, for example.

But many people choose to stay at home in a basement or inner room. Because of this, the City of Ashland started a storm shelter registry last fall to let first responders know where residents would be located in the event of a tornado. According to Creamer, it is the only registry in Boone County.

“There currently isn’t a database that’s on a county-wide scale,” Creamer said. “We would encourage those individuals to let other members in the community, particularly their neighbors know where they would be in the event of a tornado, or some of their family members know.”

If a tornado goes through Boone County, emergency crews will go to areas that have the highest risk of people who may be trapped.

“Part of that assessment would be talking to a lot of the homeowners and the residents in the area,” Creamer said. “Many of them may be aware of where their neighbors were.”

Aside from storm shelter registries, Creamer said there are other resources emergency responders can use to identify where people may be after a natural disaster, but he said this goes back to lack of funding. For example, the Emergency Management Office of Osage County has a Smart Prepare system that will be able to pull information from the 911 database with people’s medical information and more. Boone County EMA said it will be looking into notification systems like Smart Prepare and others over the next year to add to its resources.

In Cole County, Emergency Management Director Bill Farr said there are 25 Red Cross approved shelters. Farr said most of those are large churches that have kitchens and shower facilities.

Farr said Cole County does not have a storm shelter registry either. He said the biggest problem is constantly keeping registries like that up to date.

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