Getting shelter from the storms
Residents in three Alexandria mobile home parks should feel safer this summer.
They now have an approved shelter to go to and an evacuation plan to follow if a tornado or severe thunderstorm threatens.
At its meeting Monday night, the Alexandria City Council approved emergency plans for the Hustad, Meadowland Estates and Viking City parks. Two other parks — HiView and Viking Lakes Village — already have on-site shelters.
State law requires mobile home parks licensed before March 1, 1988 to have an emergency plan or shelter. The city, county and Horizon Public Health have been working with the mobile home parks to make sure the plans and procedures are current.
Under the plan, if a tornado warning is issued or sirens sound, mobile home residents and their visitors should proceed immediately to the following pre-designated shelters:
• Hustad — Douglas County Sheriff's Office at 216 7th Ave. W. Alternative shelters are Alomere Health at 111 17th Ave. W. or Runestone Community Center (which is not open 24 hours a day) at 802 3rd Ave. W.
• Meadowland Estates — Alomere Health. The alternative shelter is the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, north entrance.
• Viking City — Sixth Avenue Community Center, directly east of the mobile home park. The shelter will be opened by a predetermined park resident who has a key. If the building isn't open, residents should contact the park manager at 612-702-5990. The alternate shelter is the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
The plans outline other actions mobile home residents should take:
Mobile home residents without immediate shelter access are encouraged to make arrangements with friends and family now on how they could get a ride to their shelter. Rainbow Rider is another option during a tornado watch — if calls are made with enough advance notice on Monday through Saturday.
If a tornado or severe thunderstorm watch is issued, residents are encouraged to listen to KXRA or KIKV radio; remain alert to existing conditions; and monitor their cell phones since the National Weather Service will issue warnings to newer-model cell phones through the Code Red system.
Those who are unable to get to an inside shelter should lie in the nearest ditch with their hands covering their head.
The managers of the parks are responsible for creating, maintaining and distributing the mobile home park's evacuation plan to their tenants. The detailed plan also covers procedures in the event of a fire, downed powerline, gas leak, water main break and other emergencies.
Those will questions about the plan may call Fire Chief Jeff Karrow, who is also the city's emergency management director, at 320-763-6488 or Julie Anderson, Douglas County Emergency Management director, at 320-304-7115.
Council member Roger Thalman noted that during his recent campaign, mobile home residents told him their worries about not having a shelter or an evacuation plan. He thanked Karrow and Anderson for quickly coming up with a "fantastic plan."