RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. – A severe weather shelter opened in Smiths Station and another in the Southern Union Community College, but there were no shelters in Russell County.
United Way’s 2-1-1 is an informational helpline for callers who need help. One way they help is by offering locations of the nearest shelter during severe weather.
James Crews lives in a mobile home in Russell County. He called 2-1-1 to seek shelter during Tuesday’s storm, but was told Russell County didn’t have any shelters.
“We don’t have shelters here to even put our kids in. They were telling me Auburn and Opelika, we’d have to go there. We’re not Lee County residents. We’re Russell County residents,” Crews said.
Candace Poole is the 2-1-1 manager with the Chattahoochee Valley United Way.
“There were none open in Russell County and none in Muscogee County, but we did provide information should someone call in from those areas in telling them what to do, where the best place to take cover might be in their new home,” Poole said.
She says the main concern with severe weather is what happens immediately after the storm.
“What 2-1-1 needs is we need the churches that provide shelters or provide chainsaw teams. If we know about the services that are available ahead of time, as soon as that disaster is over, we can start putting people in contact with the agencies that are going to help them the most,” Poole explained.
Meanwhile, Crews is worried about the safety of his family and community.
“My wife went through last Sunday’s storm. Her and my children are scared to death and there have been several tornadoes here and it’s just a matter of time before it gets worse here,” Crews said.
2-1-1 says that severe weather shelters that opened up during this round of severe weather might not necessarily be open the next time there is severe weather.