BEAUREGARD, Ala. (WRBL) – A community storm shelter is now open at Beauregard Volunteer Fire Station 4 off Hwy 51 in Lee County. The shelter arrives just in time for severe weather season in a community that knows all too well the devastation of tornadoes.

Pastor Rusty Sowell with Providence Baptist Church says the community of Beauregard and surrounding Lee County will never forget the devastation four years ago when 23 men, women, and children were killed during the March 3rd tornadoes. Now, when severe weather strikes anxiety, and worry comes with it. 

“It seems like yesterday, moving in and out of the community and touching base with people whose lives were turned upside down – it’s very emotional. A nonprofit came to me and asked me with regards to doing something in memory and honor of those in the community.  We had the property and the space to do that and we wanted to put a storm shelter here close to where the majority of people died or were injured during the tornadoes on that third day of March,” said Sowell. 

Safe-T-Shelter recently manufactured and installed the above-ground storm shelter.

“This shelter is designed, engineered, and tested to withstand EF5 tornados and 250+ mph wind and debris. All of our shelters are built using locally sourced US-made ¼” solid steel plates. This shelter is equipped with interior lighting, forced air ventilation system, dehumidifier, and bench seating. This shelter will accommodate 32 people per FEMA guidelines, but can accommodate many more during a time of need,” said Dustin Mitchell, VP of Business Development

Sowell says this shelter is a last resort only. Larger shelters like the one at Providence Baptist Church are equipped to open early and stay late.

“If it’s gonna be a long day you need to go to the larger shelters,” said Sowell. 

Sowell hopes the newest storm shelter offers even more peace of mind a shining example of neighbor protecting neighbor.

“Volunteers man this, our first responders are volunteers. This is people giving of themselves, and that is what it’s all about. Everyone doing their part,” said Sowell.

Safe-T-Shelter Storm Shelters have been designing, manufacturing, and building commercial and residential storm shelters for 28 years. 

“We personally manufacture and install all shelters to ensure that they meet only the highest standards, are installed properly and to our specifications. We are very appreciative of the support from Beauregard VFD and Rusty Sowell for trusting us to provide severe weather protection for their community,” said Mitchell. 

A dedication will be held on the fourth anniversary of the March 3 tornadoes at the shelter. During that event, Sowell is expected to share the non-profit that gifted the shelter and infrastructure to the community. The dedication will be followed by a candlelight vigil at Providence Baptist Church and the March 3 Memorial site The entire community is invited to come out and pay your respects.