Storm Shelters Stymied: Red Tape or Money?

An ongoing bureaucratic wrangle in Alabama over licensing and governmental authority for the installation of modular storm shelters has left hundreds of people in DeKalb County vulnerable as storm season approaches. A bidding war for the contract resulted in a lawsuit, and the Alabama Manufactured Housing Commission claims it should have jurisdiction but does not have the manpower to do the inspections. Meanwhile the state attorney general said the Licensing Board for General Contractors has responsibility. 31 people died in DeKalb County in the April 27, 2011 tornado, while hundreds more across the state were protected by Safe-T-Shelter’s Aqua Marine, including direct hits from an F5 tornado, which packs winds of 261-318 mph. FoxNews tells the bottom line is likely the inspection, certification, and licensing fees, especially in light of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA)  approval of almost 1200 new shelters. While state lawmakers attempt to streamline the process, Ricky Harcrow, chairman of the county commission says, “The magnitude of the roadblocks that we have hit are just uncalled for.” Anthony Clifton, DeKalb County Emergency Management Director, very frustrated by the turn of events, says he cannot start the bidding process again until the end of Feb. “They were here,” he said. “They were on the ground. The governor himself was here. And then to let this drag out the way it has is unforgivable.”

(Photo credit: FoxNews)

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