No plans to build tornado shelter in Jefferson City

Although libraries around Jefferson City are available as temporary storm shelters during business hours, the city lacks a FEMA-style tornado shelter.

Amid discussion in other towns across mid-Missouri to build full-blown tornado shelters, staff at the Cole County Emergency Management said Jefferson City currently has no plans to build such a facility.

"It would be very costly," said Coordinator Bill Farr. "It would cost a million and a half, two million dollars. We looked at this several years ago, but there again, who's going to be there to open it up?"

Residents can currently take shelter at the Capital Mall and at libraries around the city. However, Claudia Schoonover of the Missouri River Regional Library said they are only able to offer shelter during business hours.

"We have not been approached about being a shelter outside of our normal business hours," Schoonover said. The library is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Jefferson City Resident Annie Duffner said she thinks the city should do more to make sure residents have a place to go at any time of the day. "I feel like there should probably be some shelters, because of the tornadoes that happened in Joplin," Duffner said.

Schoonover said the problem is compounded because the basement at the Missouri River Regional Library only has a capacity of around 150 people. She said the upstairs is not safe to be used as a shelter because of all the glass, books, and other objects that could injure people.

Joseph Wyatt said if he is visiting his mom who lives near Apache Flats, his plan for what to do if there is a tornado is simple. "There's a creek right down here, right under this hill. I'd probably go down there," Wyatt said. "These trailers, they ain't going to do nothing if a storm comes through."