Weathering the Storm

1 decade 11 months 2 days ago Friday, October 19 2007 Oct 19, 2007 Friday, October 19, 2007 4:34:45 PM CDT October 19, 2007 in News

Paris, home to about 1500 people, has three tornado sirens, but no designated tornado shelter.

The city uses the basements of the First Baptist Church and the First Christian Church to shelter residents during a tornado.

"They probably wouldn't hold the total population," said City Superintendent Phillip Shatzer. "If we were to need that much area we could expand down to city hall."

City officials emphasized that these two churches are only meant to shelter residents whose homes don't provide enough safety during a storm.

"People who live in mobile homes, or who do not have the most adequate shelter, is what our shelters are for," Eric Heitmeyer, Paris's emergency management director, said.

The small town lacks sufficient funds to build a designated tornado shelter .

"In small communities and stuff, everybody kinda wears two hats, and kinda the same way with buildings. You use certain buildings, like a church, that you double as a shelter," Heitmeyer said.

City officials said they were  hesitant to construct a building just for a tornado shelter that could be hit and destroyed itself.

The three tornado sirens in Paris do not reach the rural areas around the city where the tornado struck last night. The twister completely destroyed a mobile home and killed 44-year-old Kent Ensor and 25-year-old Kristy Secrease.

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