Archived Story

Officials want storm shelters registered with GIS

Published 3:09pm Friday, May 3, 2013

Severe weather is on many people’s minds this time of year, and the Franklin County GIS Consortium is promoting a service designed to help residents feel a little safer in the event of another severe weather outbreak in the area.
Michael Hughes, Franklin County’s GIS manager, said he is urging any Franklin County resident who has a storm shelter or a basement that they would use in the event of severe weather to register that shelter with the county’s GIS.
Hughes said all he needs is the GPS coordinates of the shelter and it will be entered into a database for first responders to use in an emergency situation like the one that occurred on April 27, 2011.
“We hope that nothing like the event that happened in our county two years ago ever happens here again, but in the event that it does, we want to learn from that experience and be more prepared,” Hughes said.
“If we have a list of storm shelters and basements where people could potentially be trapped following a tornado or other disaster, we can track the specific path or area of damage and come up with a list of storm shelters and basements in that vicinity so first responders will be sure to check those places.”
Hughes said first responders did an outstanding job after the April 2011 tornado disaster, but they were having to fly blindly in most situations.
“Instead of having to sift through rubble and look for signs of a storm shelter or a basement where someone could be trapped, we would know specifically,” Hughes said.
“This could make rescue efforts quicker and more efficient. We wouldn’t want someone to be trapped somewhere for a day or two without rescuers knowing where they are.”
Hughes said is a resident isn’t able to plot the coordinates of their storm shelter or basement on their own, he can come to their residence to plot the coordinates himself.
“We just want to make sure we have this information because we feel like it’s a way we can use the GIS to make things safer for Franklin County’s residents if we ever have to endure severe weather again,” he said.
Hughes added that the storm shelter and GPS coordinates would not be made public and would only be accessible by first responders in the event of an emergency.
Anyone who wants to list their storm shelter or basement with the county’s GIS can send GPS coordinates to Hughes at michael@virtualfranklincounty.org or they can call Hughes to schedule an appointment to have their coordinates plotted by calling 256-332-8434.

Editor's Picks