Storm Shelter Options For Bismarck/Mandan Trailer Parks?
It's storm season in Bismarck Mandan and all across North Dakota.
June and July typically bring us the stormiest months of the year. Although the Bismarck Mandan area is more known for hail and wind in the summertime (just check your homeowner's insurance), tornadoes can and occasionally do happen.
I received a couple of calls on air during one of our recent storms that rolled through the area from folks who live in trailer parks in Bismarck. One gentleman who moved here not too long ago from Grand Forks wondered where the storm shelters are in town.
I assumed we had storm shelters somewhere in town but did not know where.
Like my listener, I too moved here from Grand Forks four years ago. In Grand Forks, the local high schools and two buildings on the campus of the University of North Dakota serve as storm shelters for people who need it Grand Forks. I believe Fargo and Minot have similar setups for their communities.
So, I decided to do some digging and I reached out to Gary Stockert with Emergency Management with the city of Bismarck.
Gary explained to me the city is between a rock and a hard place. We have not had storm shelters in Bismarck since the 70s. Back then, (like Grand Forks) some of the schools were opened up as storm shelter options.
"It's something that is on the radar and is revisited from time to time by the city, but at this time it's not feasible", said Mr. Stockert. The city of Bismarck would have to take police off the street to open up shelters and then patrol shelters to make sure there's no theft or vandalism. It's a liability.
Stockert also added, 60 to 70% of tornadoes over the last 50 years in Burleigh County have been F-0 or F-1s. The least dangerous level of tornadoes.
The city of Bismarck instead offers up this advice to its residents who live in trailer parks.
Get creative and make a plan with family and friends who have basements to seek shelter there. Your place of employment might be an option too. Stockert also added that you should relocate during the "watch" and not the "warning" portion of a tornado. By the time a "warning" is issued, it will likely be too late.
Cody Mattson from Morton County Emergency in Mandan echoed the same comments as the city of Bismarck.
Although the city of Mandan does have two storm shelters for campers in Grainer and Harmon Lake from a 2018 FEMA grant. Both shelters hold about 50 people or so. Not a viable option for most who live in Mandan.
What's your take on the subject? Do you feel the cities of Bismarck and Mandan should be responsible for shelters for their residents? Should it become a priority? I should add, that we have more trailer parks in Bismarck than any other city in North Dakota. That's a lot of people who could potentially need shelters.
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