Boone County Lacks Tornado Shelters for Mobile Home Communities

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BOONE COUNTY - Boone County has about 28 mobile home communities, but in Columbia there are no mobile home parks with designated storm shelters. Only a handful had a office building that could double as a shelter.

With the threat of tornadoes and severe weather in the Midwest, residents of mobile homes wonder why none of the communities have designed shelters. Their only resort is to stay in their mobile home or take cover elsewhere.

However, there is another wrench in the problem. In a press release from the City of Columbia it said, "A list of civil defense/emergency shelters no longer exists as they have in past decades. We recommend that citizens know the various public facilities that are open throughout the day or night for optional emergency shelter as the situation presents itself. That's why it is so important to have a plan well in advance of approaching severe weather."

All of Missouri is in a wind zone that can get wind gusts from severe storms that can exceed 250 mph. The number of recorded tornadoes is 5 to 15 per 2,470 square miles, which is less than fifteen square miles smaller than Delaware. The high winds and large number of tornadoes put the entire state at a high-risk level. The high-risk level should draw caution to Boone County and the state of Missouri.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency website lists in the event of a tornado, residents should always evacuate mobile homes.

In a mobile home, even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you.

According to a January 2001 study by Dr. Harold E. Brooks (NOAA/NSSL) the death rate for mobile home residents in a tornado is about 20 times the rate of site-built home residents.