Cave City officials plan to speak to Barren County magistrates next week about how to proceed in light of recent flooding in the city’s storm shelters.
Council members saw photographs Monday night that show water leaking into the city’s two shelters – one at Thomas Doyle Recreation Park and another near the city’s maintenance building on Wall Street. Construction of the shelters was completed in May by Carter Douglas.
The cost to Cave City for the shelters was $20,541.90. The city was required to pay a 13 percent match for a Federal Emergency Management Agency mitigation grant of more than $850,000 to build the shelters throughout the county.
Barren County Emergency Management Director Tony Richey said Tuesday that Cave City was billed for the shelters in May. The council voted in November to pay what was owed for the shelter on Wall Street, which was $10,270.95, but not for the shelter at the park.
“The shelter out at the ballpark … I think everybody agrees it’s got to have some serious attention,” said Mayor Dwayne Hatcher during the council’s meeting Monday.
Hatcher told council members the contractor has said he will remedy the problem as soon as the weather improves. Matt Alsip, foreman for contractor Carter Douglas, confirmed on Tuesday that he will try to make repairs.
“There is a drainage problem. I’ve tried to address that once and I’m going to go back and make sure that is fixed,” Alsip said Tuesday. “It’s just been so cold and the ground has been so hard that I’ve not been able to do it.”
Hatcher pointed out during the meeting that the photos given to council members indicate the leakage problem appears to be worsening.
Councilman Wesley Pedigo shared a story about how he, his wife and other residents went to the park shelter during a recent storm.
“They weren’t so much worried about getting blown away as they were drowning,” Pedigo said. “This has been an ongoing thing with this storm shelter.”
In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Richey said the photos were taken the day after two inches of rain fell in the area and that there wasn’t enough water in the shelter for anyone to actually drown.
Hatcher said he has spoken several times with Richey and with Barren County Judge-Executive Davie Greer, and that Greer has visited one of the shelters.
“I guess the sort of predicament we are in is we have voted to pay for the one on Wall Street. You see the pictures. That payment has not been made as of yet,” he said. “The county would certainly like for us to go ahead and pay for that.”
Hatcher asked the council to table action on the matter and allow himself and Robert Smith, Cave City code enforcement officer, to address magistrates at the next fiscal court meeting. The council later voted to do so.
“It is ultimately members of the fiscal court and the city council who are going to come to some type of agreement. And that is my suggestion,” he said.
Hatcher said Richey has pointed out that the shelters’ specifications did not include prevention against water leakage.
“They are storm shelters to protect you from wind, hail and tornadoes and all of that,” Hatcher said.
Richey said Tuesday that nearly all of the shelters built in the county experience some type of water seepage, Richey said.
“It’s nothing that nobody else has complained about,” he said. “It’s the way the buildings are sitting on concrete. There’s not any gasket that is going to keep the water out.”
Richey said the shelter walls are anchored to the concrete and glued. FEMA P-361, a publication that provides guidelines for such shelters, “talks about the main design on those safe rooms [and states] it is for wind and debris safety, protection against 250 mph wind and ... flying debris and trees. That’s the main things those are designed for,” he said.
Richey also said the shelters did not come with thresholds, which are not part of FEMA P-361 criteria, and that the shelter at the ballpark will be caulked in an effort to correct the water seepage problem.
During the meeting, Hatcher said he feels that the correct approach for Cave City officials is to address magistrates at the next fiscal court meeting, “where everybody can see and know what dilemma we are in and see if we can’t come to a rational understanding.”
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