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Emergency Manager Explains Why There Are No Tornado Shelters Offered in Bismarck

We explained last week how the warm weather can lead to severe weather events. But where do people go when disasters strike?

A piece of advice you’ve probably heard before is when tornados strike, get to low ground. Those of us without basements can be left at a loss of where to go or what to do. Burleigh County doesn’t provide tornado shelters to the public, and manufactured home residents say they’re concerned. But Emergency Management says shelters aren’t as effective for our county as you might think.

“It’s been pretty scary up here,” said Bismarck manufactured home resident Terri Rader.

Rader walked reporter Emmeline Ivy to her severe weather shelter.

This ditch, she says, is her and her husband’s safety plan. Rader and her neighbors know just how terrifying twisters can be.

“One time the wind was ripping through. It sounded like a freight train was going through the trailer court,” Rader said.

A problem this community and others like it face: no tornado shelters. In fact, there are no shelters in all of Burleigh County.

“I think every trailer court should have a shelter for everybody. But that would be a pretty big shelter they’d have to build,” said Rader.

Bismarck Emergency Manager Gary Stockert says size is just one of the problems we face when it comes to erecting tornado shelters.

“You need several of them. You need land space. The cost is prohibitive, and the probability of these events is relatively low. So, it’s kind of hard to justify that kind of cost,” said Stockert.

Stockert says the issue of developing shelters is brought up about once a year, but he says the risk outweighs the benefits.

“If you designate a certain building as a shelter facility, and someone has to open that facility, unlock it, secure it, that individual if they’re not there to open it, now you’ve got people who are at that facility and they can’t get in,” said Stockert.

Neighborhoods lacking basements do have options.

Stockert says the best course of action is to coordinate with people you know who have more options for a safe place to go. Stockert says basements aren’t considered an official tornado shelter.

He says they’re just a safer option than the main level. He says if you plan to relocate, do so during a watch not during a warning.

He says during a warning it’s best to stay where you are, go to the lowest floor, and get as many walls between you and the outside as possible.

Source : KFYRTV