City, County, EMA plan warming stations ahead of winter storm

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CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Commission, City of Cullman and Cullman Emergency Management Agency (EMA) are in full swing teaming up to secure warming stations to assist locals in weathering the frigid temperatures that are projected to hit to north Alabama in the coming days. By Tuesday morning, local meteorologists have predicted wind chills as low as 4 degrees to sweep across the Tennessee Valley.

The area is preparing for possible power outages. Cullman County Commission Receptionist Miranda Hood noted that local churches and businesses could possibly open and operate as warming stations for the public. The commission is partnering with Cullman EMA to locate and secure other possible sites throughout the county. 

Cullman County Attorney Emily Neizer Johnston said, “Typically he (EMA Director Tim Sartin) coordinates through the County and lets us know where the warming stations are going to be.” 

The Cullman County Courthouse might seem like a logical choice to be an area for respite from the cold; the generator runs on natural gas, eliminating the worry of a power and heat outage. But Johnston explained there is more to turning the taxpayer-funded courthouse into a warming center than meets the eye.

“We have some issues with accessibility; we don’t have all of the necessary things on the first floor and that would make it more difficult for everyone,” she said. 

Luke Satterfield, in-house attorney for the City of Cullman, echoed logistics concerns from Johnston, and pointed out that the City is not against the idea of setting up areas as a warming station, just that it hasn’t been necessary until now due to several centrally located churches or nonprofits opening their doors.

Satterfield said the City is prepared to open the Donald E. Green Active Adult Center should there be a need from 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 15, to 30 minutes before the Center opens on Tuesday, Jan. 16, with repeating time schedules Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

“The Donald E. Green Senior Center will be available as a temporary, public warming station. Should the Center be closed upon one’s arrival due to lack of need at that time, there will be a number to call and they will inform local law enforcement so that an officer may unlock the Center and remain on-site,” Satterfield said in a statement to the Tribune.

Satterfield stated that guests of the warming station will need to be good company, with no pets/animals, firearms/weapons, cigarettes, tobacco, vapes, e-cigarettes or alcohol allowed. Guests will also need to bring their own bedding such as a sleeping bag or pillow.

Satterfield said he hopes the effort by the City will not be needed, but if it is, residents make good use of it and remember, “This is for public warming only. We hope that everyone remains safe and takes the appropriate precautions.”

At the time of publishing, a couple of warming stations tucked into opposite ends of the county have already advertised as being open to the public: Trinity Pentecostal Church in Hanceville and Camp Liberty in Battleground, with several more in central locations expected to be announced in the coming days. The Cullman Tribune will post these as information becomes available.

  • The Donald E. Green Active Adult Center is located at 1625 Cleveland Ave. SW, Cullman, AL 35055.
  • Trinity Pentecostal Church is located at 307 Whaley Ave. NE, Hanceville,  AL 35077.
  • Camp Liberty is located at 15719 Alabama Highway 157, Vinemont, AL 35179.

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