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MASON CITY, IA – Mike Lowe has been living in Mason City for more than 60 years, and says when those tornado sirens go off….
“Go outside and look, I mean that’s natural,” said Lowe.
But now that there’s a new FEMA building just down the block, taking shelter may bring a new meaning.
“Years ago they never had something like that so now that they have something for people with kids that’s close and pretty well protected for them,” said Lowe.
Mason City Fire Chief Bob Platts says that’s exactly who those shelters are meant for.
There are now three FEMA buildings in the Mason City area, one at the MacNider Campgrounds, and the other two are in schools.
“The one’s for the schools were put into basically handle the school population. They have tested the one at the High School, it will hold the entire student body High School, John Adams Junior High, and Alternative School,” said Platts.
But once school lets out for the summer, the public can gain access to them as well.
Something Mike is glad to hear.
“Depending on the time period but probably a little safer over there,” said Lowe.
And if you ever need to use the shelters, you can bet on seeing the fire department there as well.
Once a tornado siren goes off the goal is to get a fire truck and ambulance from the fire station to buildings such as Newman Catholic High School or Mason City where a FEMA building is on location.
Chief Platts says while the FEMA shelter is an option when kids are out of class, you want to think “close to home” first.
“If it was open and you’re in a trailer home or something like that and this was your best level of protection, I guess I’d take that level of protection but if I’m in my home. I got an opportunity to go to a lower level in my mind I would go after that first rather than going out in the weather,” said Platts.
Both the MacNider Campground and Mason City High School FEMA buildings are connected to the tornado sirens.
Once the sirens go off, the doors to the buildings automatically unlock.
Newman Catholic High School’s building will have to be unlocked by the Fire Department or a school employee.