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Storm Of Controversy Created By Tornado Shelter Signs

May 14, 2012 by  

Storm Of Controversy Created By Tornado Shelter Signs
Tornadoes ripped through Alabama in 2011.

Charles Warren, superintendent of the DeKalb County Public School System, wanted to put signs on Alabama highways directing drivers to tornado shelters. But he was blown off by the Alabama Department of Transportation. The signs guiding motorists to a safe haven were considered unsafe.

In an email sent to Warren by Department of Transportation traffic engineer Travis Kilgore, Kilgore explained:

“The use of shelter directional signs have not yet been approved for installation on state roads. The overuse and overcrowding of signs can be a distraction to motorist (sic) and often lead to a disregard or disrespect of necessary regulatory and roadway warning signs. We understand the importance of notifying and guiding the public to storm shelters, but we cannot permit these signs on state routes.

“The Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices requires States to develop a comprehensive plane (sic) to address miscellaneous guide signs and their installation on State roads. We limit guide signs, other than the primary destinations (Towns and Cities), to those destinations that a large number of motorists may be looking for. Our State Traffic Engineer has determined these signs are not approved for installation on State roads and has previously denied requests for shelter signs in South Alabama.”

In light of last year’s tragic tornadoes across Alabama, Warren argued that people traveling through the State need to be made aware of the location of shelters.

Initially, Warren’s plan was rejected, but in the end, he was able to put up the signs.

Bryan Nash

Staff writer Bryan Nash has devoted much of his life to searching for the truth behind the lies that the masses never question. He is currently pursuing a Master's of Divinity and is the author of The Messiah's Misfits, Things Unseen and The Backpack Guide to Surviving the University. He has also been a regular contributor to the magazine Biblical Insights.

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  • Wumingren

    Brown signs with white letters tell me where the Minnesota Zoo, Mall of America, and other various sight-seeing locations can be found. Blue signs with white letters tell me where to find the public library, but signs that direct me to a safe shelter are considered by some to be a distraction? Weird.

  • http://peresonallibertydigest.. gottaplenty

    Did any one consider billboards on private property?

    • 45caliber

      Billboards are usually made of wood and don’t act as a sail in bad weather. They generally shatter. Metal signs like those along a road make dandy guillitines.

  • box-bb-car

    This is the DOT displaying it’s plumage in order to look important. Damn those pesky voters, they actually want some service!. This is an example of what we will face at the hands of the big government types if they get total control. Reminds me of a story from the old soviet union when the farmers were given orders to harvest barley. The grain was so wet it would ball when squeezed in the hand. But, orders were orders, sent from Moscow. They harvested. Then had to buy grain on the international market when theirs rotted. This is what we are headed for, comrades

  • 45caliber

    If you ever see the results of one of these metal signs sailing through the air and striking something edge on, you wouldn’t want them on the road in tornado areas anyway. And to be warning signs of any value, they would have to be large enough for people to easily notice in a panic.

    Besides, in most cases, the first time you know a tornado is close is when it strikes. You seldom even have enough time to stop your car and get out or hide in an interior room of your house. You certainly don’t have time to drive down to a local shelter, even if you know exactly where it is.

    • independent thinker

      “If you ever see the results of one of these metal signs sailing through the air and striking something edge on, you wouldn’t want them on the road in tornado areas anyway.”

      Not denying the truth of that statement but the logic of whay you are saying says we need to remove ALL highway sighs that are large enough to read as you travel down the highways.

      • 45caliber

        If you are in areas with lots of tornadoes, I agree with that. I used to live in tornado alley.

      • Buster the Anatolian

        Ah, but Alabama is not known as a high tornado area.

  • texastwin827

    Safe shelter signs would be a “distraction”? Obviously, the person who made this kind of decision based on that kind of reasoning…is an idiot!

    The southern portion of Texas (our coastal border area) has signs on both state and federal roads marked as “Hurricane Evacuation Route” although I can say we have none in the more tornado prone areas for peoplewishing to escape a tornado. Perhaps that may be because you get such a shorter time frame for warning of an approaching tornado and the preferred method is to seek shelter in an enclosed (no windows nor outside walls) area, in your home, rather than be on the road, where there is no protection.

    Regardless of why, the original arguement of it being a “distraction” was about as stupid as it gets!

  • Mike112769

    So, it is fine to direct people to a gas station or a fast food restaurant; yet it is illegal to point out the shelters because shelters are not tourist destinations? Does anyone else think this is unwise, at best?

  • ringgo1

    Just more of big government trumping common sense. Talk about a “distraction”!

  • tex46

    Regarding the metal signs, there are signs all over the place in N. Texas that warn of icy bridges/overpasses …. for the once a year occurrance. Many of these signs stay up all year long. I guess that warning, which should be common sense, trumps the danger that these signs pose during tornadoes. And, yes, Buster, Alabama does have a number of tornadoes, as does GA, OK, TX, LA, MS, AR, KS, Not exactly in the tornado belt, but tornadoes kill more people than icy roads, at least in N. Texas.

    • Buster the Anatolian

      I stand by my statement. I know that all of the states you listed can have numerous tornados I live in one of them but that is not the norm and the further east you go the less the likelyhood of having numerous tornados in a season.

  • Beno

    The Transportation Department is another useless government living off the people, fire them all.

  • Sharon

    Maybe they will start thinking when a lot of people are killed in a disaster and the stupid authorities refused to let the town put up directional signs for cover from tornado’s and more disaster. It is stupid by far and what next – seems there is a LOT of stupid things happening more and more from this White House!


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