Bagley storm shelter finished—already used during recent area storms
By Caitlin Bittner
Small towns throughout the midwest are known best for their ability to pull together and get things done, and Bagley is no exception. On Aug. 6, 2013, Bagley finalized its plans to build a $400,000 tornado shelter. Now, less than a year later, the project has been completed under budget.
“I’m guessing we’ll basically be under budget by about $2,500. We didn’t buy the most expensive things, or the cheapest; we took the middle road,” explained Bagley Village President David “Buck” Schott.
Although the crew working on the shelter is still putting the finishing touches on it, the shelter has been declared usable. In fact, it was used on June 16, the night of the Plateville tornado. “I heard about the storms on the weather radio, so I went and unlocked [the shelter]. It was a good thing I did because there were already people there waiting to take cover when I arrived,” said Schott.
By his estimation, the shelter was able to provide protection for 65 people that night; however, in the event of severe weather, the shelter will protect up to 255 people. “The building is designed to stand up to 250 mph winds, not that I ever want to test that,” Schott said.
In fact, Schott went on to admit that he preferred if the building was never used. “We’re basically building a building we hope we never have to use, but I’m glad we have it if we need it.”
All in all, the project cost the village of Bagley about $28,000. “We were responsible for 12.5 percent of the money,” explained Schott, who went on to say that the project had been funded by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. The rest of the money was provided by the federal government (75 percent) and the state of Wisconsin (12.5 percent).
Originally, when the village first applied for the grant, they applied for funds to build a shelter in town. Recently, FEMA contacted Schott, informing him that they’d found some more money and could fund the construction of a second tornado safe house.
“It’ll be the same deal as the first one, except this one will be smaller and cost less,” said Schott, who hopes they will be able to break ground in the coming months and have the shelter ready to go by next spring. The second shelter will be located across from the Bagley Fire Department.
As with any project, critics question the need for these shelters, but there is no doubt as to whether the cost is worth it in Schott’s mind, especially when he thinks about the tornado that hit Jellystone Campground last spring, in addition to the more recent destruction in Platteville.
“[The bad weather] gets close to us. With situations like this, you can’t please everybody, but I always say that if it saves one life, it’ll be worth it,” said Schott, echoing a sentiment sure to be shared by many.