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Vine Grove gets tornado shelter grant

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By Amber Coulter

Vine Grove residents are expected to have a new option for severe weather safety before the end of next year.

City officials have received notice that Vine Grove will get a $600,000 grant to be used toward construction of a tornado-safe room.

The room will be constructed as a retro-fit to the existing Vine Grove Fire Department on Highland Avenue and will provide emergency shelter for about 400 people in the event of a tornado.

The money comes from a Hazard Mitigation Grant through the Federal Emergency Management Protection Agency, which was submitted by city officials in 2010 as a result of the 2009 ice storm.

Construction could begin as early as this spring and should take about six months to complete, Mayor Blake Proffitt said.

The safe room will help those who don’t have basements, cellars or other safe places to go when severe weather is on the way. It also will provide drivers a nearby refuge when tornado sirens sound, he said.

Steve New, Vine Grove fire chief and emergency management officer, said the structure will be built to FEMA standards and able to withstand winds as high as 250 mph. Three sides of the shelter will be underground.

It primarily is meant to serve residents within a three-quarter-mile radius of the fire station, but it’s open to anyone who needs it, he said.

Residents who want to use the shelter should head there when they see tornado warnings and not wait until they might be caught in bad weather on the way, he said.

The shelter will help give people a safe place to go, New said.

“It’s important that we take care of our citizens, and this is one way the federal government is helping us,” he said.

Assistant City Clerk Jackie Johnson said city employees thank state Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown; U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green; and Guthrie’s field representative, Greg Burkot, for their support.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.