These shelters join existing public shelters. The shelters in Ashland, which are located behind the courthouse, have a total capacity of about 180 individuals. The shelters constructed at Snow Lake Shores have a capacity of about 120 individuals, collectively.
Each community shelter is made up of two Federal Emergency Management Agency-approved “safe rooms” similar to those constructed at individual homes using FEMA grants. They were constructed by Home Safety Inc. and are being financed through a FEMA grant obtained by the Benton County Board of Supervisors. The shelters are easily accessible and are always unlocked so individuals can seek refuge anytime.
Improvements to the shelters are ongoing. Officials are working to obtain and install solar or battery-powered lights in the shelters. When work around the shelters is complete, they will be fully handicap accessible.
In addition to the new tornado shelters, the county has obtained two large portable generators to be used in emergency situations. The generators will be transported to and used at wells and pumping stations in the county if necessitated by extended power outages.