coffee county hurricane

KAYLA RUTLEDGE/DOTHAN EAGLE

Coffee County residents wait out Hurricane Michael in a storm shelter at Enterprise High School.

In 2007, a tornado ripped through Enterprise unexpectedly embraced a change of pressure and withheld enough force to plow through Enterprise High School, killing eight students and an additional resident of the area. Today, Coffee County leaves no room for error in the wake of natural disasters, and has taken Hurricane Michael very seriously.

“Some people have hurricane parties, but not us. Not this time,” said Coffee County EMA director James Brown. “Everyone is going into this storm with extra caution.”

One strong step of precaution the county has taken is building a state-of-the-art storm shelter at the new Enterprise High School.

Equipped with running water in bathrooms and showers, backup generators, and steel coverings for all entry points to the building, the school is a secure location for those in the area to flock to until Michael passes.

At about 10:30 a.m., hours before the storm was expected to hit, there were already 24 people setting up their cots at the county’s safe haven with more expected to arrive as the storm drew near. Local residents were told to bring their own supplies they may need during the event, such as food and water.

Coffee County EMA office disaster volunteer coordinator Robert Jackson said when it comes to safety, no one should be taking chances and the safe haven the county has provided gives residents a place to go to wait out the storm.

“This shelter gives people a sense of comfort knowing there’s a place they can go during natural occurrences like the hurricane,” Jackson continued, “I think people really appreciate knowing there’s people here that can help them in the event of a disaster.”

With 40 cots set up and 40 more available for use, the shelter is also equipped with volunteer staff and a community emergency response team (CERT) to help people with needs throughout the duration of their time in the safe haven. The doors opened at 5 a.m., will be closed and locked during the peak of the hurricane, and open again at 5 a.m. Thursday if weather permits.

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