‘Ma’am, find a ditch!’

On April 27, 2011, my husband and I were very frightened by all of the weather warnings. We wanted to find safe shelter and not try to ride out the storm inside our manufactured home. I called our local EMA and asked, “Sir, I live near Highway 27; where is our designated shelter?” The response I received was, “Ma’am, there is no shelter for this side of Blount County. Please find a ditch as your mobile home is not safe.”

As I hung up the phone, my husband and I felt total despair. We had nowhere to go. We could see the storms overhead and hear the hail beating down on the metal roof as we sheltered in the bathroom of our mobile home. We were so blessed and lucky. Our hearts pray for those on the other side of Blount County who were not as lucky as we were. I can’t help but wonder if some of these families faced the same issues we faced in trying to find proper shelter on 4/27/2011.

As we go forward and try to learn from April 27, 2011, we need to make sure that our officials find, open, and designate a shelter and safe area within the city of Oneonta. No one should ever make a call for help to learn that our side of Blount County has not designated a safe shelter or place of refuge for their families. This is an easy fix. Any shelter would have been better than none. We owe this to the families in our area who needed shelter on 4/27/2011 and there was nowhere to go.

We MUST fix this problem before the next set of storms.

Jean Moore Sanderson