Sunday marks three years since a deadly tornado outbreak killed 6 people in Elmore County. Almost 250 other people died across the state. Now the Elmore County Emergency Management Agency hopes a new building with updated technology will help them.
Billy Myers remembers April 27, 2011 very well. Myers owns Myers Country Acres Mobile Home Park in Eclectic. That night, a tornado tore through the park, killing four people and destroying several mobile homes. Myers sheltered in his home with his wife, waiting for the storm to pass.
"The house shook all over and it was gone. I ran on out of the house and I seen we had everything out. I told her to start lighting candles. We'd been hit. I ran on into the park. The park was gone," said Myers.
Since then, Myers has built a storm shelter for his residents, and he says the community has learned lessons about tornadoes since the deadly disaster.
Elmore County officials say they learned lessons, too. They say they ran into problems in 2011, with facilities too small too house all emergency personnel. They hope the new $4.5 million Emergency Operations Center will improve communication, so that emergency officials can respond more quickly to disaster.
"Right now we operate out of about 400 square feet in the old courthouse and it just pointed out that we needed more space, and a more modern space, to deal with large-scale disaster events out in the county," said Commission Chairman David Bowen.
Bowen says the county partly financed the project with a $1 million donation from FEMA. Bowen says Elmore County was one of only eight to get the grant, which he believes is due to the 2011 storms.
The center will house EMA offices and Sheriff's Office 911 dispatch, in addition to serving as central operations during emergencies. The new Emergency Operations Center should be finished by next April.