Storm shelters scattered

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Residents of Iola, Humboldt and LaHarpe have access to public storm shelters when need arises. People living in other incorporated cities don’t.
Jared Warner, Iola police chief, said City Hall, 2 W. Jackson, the Bowlus Fine Arts Center, 205 E. Madison, Lincoln School, 700 N. Jefferson, McKinley School, 209 S. Kentucky, and the post office, 120 West St., are designated as storm shelters and are opened anytime a tornado warning is issued by the National Weather Service for Iola.
Humboldt also has five shelters: the swimming pool, water plant, Cannon Park, the Lutheran Church and Emprise Bank.
LaHarpe has three shelters that are kept unlocked when severe weather is likely. They are at Seventh and Jackson streets, Ninth and Jefferson streets and Tenth and Broadway streets on the elementary school grounds.
Gas has no designated public shelter, although the school, occupied by Crossroads Alternative Learning Center, was once used.
Moran, Carlyle, Mildred, Elsmore, Savonburg and Petrolia also have no designated public shelters.

IN IOLA, a tornado warning — which means a tornado has been sighted by trained spotters or identified by Doppler Radar — is the trigger for sirens to sound and storm shelters to be opened. But Chief Warner has some discretion.
“If it is obvious that Iola is in the path of a tornado, we’re going to sound the sirens and open shelters,” he said. Chief Dan Onnen in Humboldt has discretion to do likewise.
Once sirens are activated, they sound until an all-clear notice is received from the weather service, Warner said.
“The reason we leave the sirens on is that we want all Iolans to be aware that dangerous weather is approaching the city,” he said. “If we sounded them just once, or for a minute or two, it’s very possible someone might not hear.”
The duration of most warnings is not more than 10 or 15 minutes, Warner said.
The five Iola shelters are often already open during daytime hours. Otherwise, police officers have access to keys and an officer will standby to assist those seeking shelter, the chief said.
Residents going to the Bowlus Center must enter through the south door, which faces the alley. At Lincoln School, the south door on the west side, which is handicap accessible, will be opened. Entry to McKinley School, also handicap accessible, is through the east door.