The Colbert County Emergency Management Agency has added a new feature to their website to help keep you safe in severe weather. The EMA has added the locations of storm shelters to Google Maps to help you locate the nearest place you can take cover in an emergency.
Available on their weather page, the shelters are listed by community name, street address, and geographic coordinates. Locations can be viewed on maps by clicking on the community’s name. This takes you to the map, showing an aerial photo of the shelter and surrounding area. You can also switch to the plain road map view by clicking the appropriate button.
Numerous storm shelters have been opened across Colbert County with the help of federal grants made available following the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak. The EMA notes that some shelters may not show up in the actual aerial photos because the shelters are brand new and Google’s imagery has not yet been updated. Still, the location or “pin” on the map is correct.
If you are unfamiliar with a shelter’s location, Google maps allows you to instantly obtain driving directions to the shelter. Just type in your address, or use your smartphone’s location feature. This will bring up a driving route on the map, and if location features are enabled, the site will update your route as you drive to the shelter.
In case of a road closure or blockage due to storm debris, you can quickly change your route on the map by sliding the blue route line to another road. Still, the EMA hopes you will familiarize yourself with the locations, and get to a shelter long before debris becomes a problem.
Check out the list of shelters at http://www.colbertcounty.org/ema/weather/index.html and familiarize yourself with the locations of shelters across Colbert County. Remember that even if you know the closest shelter to your home or own your own shelter, you might be caught out in a storm and need to take cover miles away from a familiar area. If that’s the case, these maps could save your life.