FEMA storm shelters closed to public again - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

FEMA storm shelters closed to public again

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One of the 14 storm shelters built with FEMA funding in Fayette County that have been closed to the public. (abc3340.com) One of the 14 storm shelters built with FEMA funding in Fayette County that have been closed to the public. (abc3340.com)
A view inside a storm shelter in Fayette County. (abc3340.com) A view inside a storm shelter in Fayette County. (abc3340.com)
FAYETTE COUNTY - AL -

     Fourteen storm shelters that were funded through a FEMA mitigation state grant three years ago have been closed to the public for the second time in Fayette County.

     Right after they were built, they were barred because the width of the doors did not meet the A. D.A. or Americans with Disabilities Act. So, the contractor widened the doors and the shelters went back into use.

     Now, they're closed indefinitely because there are serious concerns about the overall design of the all metal buildings. "We've had problem after problem," said John Gordon, Fayette County's administrator.

     Gordon says water leaks into the buildings around the bases of the walls.

     He recently received a letter from the State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers stating that the office does not believe the shelters meet code.

     Gordon says the state specifically pointed out that doors which currently open inward are suppose to open outwardly. Also, welding of the structures --which are suppose to withstand 250 miles per hour wind -- may now be an issue. The construction company is being questioned. "The board is investigating them and we've been told by the state that the original design has some deficiencies."

     However, its unclear exactly what all of the deficiencies may be.

     Until all questions are cleared Fayette County leaders have opted to close the shelters to the public fearing liability issues.

     The shelters are closed indefinitely. County leaders tentatively have a meeting scheduled with the licensure board next month meaning the shelters will likely not be available for use during the upcoming storm season.

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