Gravity of 2021 tornadoes still felt as Bowling Green plans to expand shelter network
It’s been nearly two years since a deadly string of tornadoes swept through Kentucky. The disaster is still being felt in many areas of the commonwealth and has led some communities to reassess their emergency preparedness.
In the aftermath of the 2021 destruction, officials in Bowling Green applied for a Disaster Recovery Grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund additional tornado shelters within the city.
Deborah Highland West, the Public Information Officer for the City of Bowling Green, told WKU Public Radio that those funds have now been secured and plans are officially underway to build five more shelters spanning three parks.
“Currently, we’ll have two at Preston Miller Park, two at Lovers Lane Soccer Complex, and one at Pedigo Park. We are hopeful they will be under construction next year.”
The project has a $3,010,058 price tag, with 90% of that cost covered by the FEMA grant. West added that 4.8% will be funded by the state, and the other 5.2% will be funded by the city.
The city has received some help to absorb the cost overflow, most recently with a $22,350 grant from the Bowling Green-Warren County Long Term Recovery Group, which was established in the wake of the 2021 tornadoes.
Two more shelters are also being considered, with one planned for Hobson Grove Park and the other planned for Lampkin Park. The city commission will vote to submit another grant request to FEMA to cover the costs associated with those facilities at their next meeting on Nov. 21.
West said that each new shelter will follow FEMA guidelines and will be built to the same proportions.
“Each shelter will be 1,800 square feet and will hold 360 people. They are 60 x 30 feet, and they will be similar to the shelter located in the county parks."
Warren County currently has eight storm shelters throughout its park system, which are constructed to withstand winds of over 200 mph. The facilities are open to the public during a tornado watch or warning that is issued by the National Weather Service.
All tornado shelters are stocked with water, weather radios, flashlights, and other various emergency items. The facilities also feature changing tables, and some even have restrooms.
The following Warren County parks currently house tornado shelters:
- Basil Griffin Park (2 Shelters)
- Ed Spear Park (1 Shelter)
- Ephram White Park (2 Shelters)
- Michael Buchanon Park (2 Shelters)
- Phil Moore Park (1 Shelter)
More information about Warren County’s tornado shelter network can be found at the Warren County Emergency Management Office in Bowling Green or online at their website.