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James Clemens to open as shelter during tornado watches

James Clemens High School will open as a public safety shelter during tornado watches, unless school is in session. (CONTRIBUTED)
James Clemens High School will open as a public safety shelter during tornado watches, unless school is in session. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Madison City Schools and the City of Madison have collaborated to designate James Clemens High School as a public safety shelter during tornado watches.

The school, located at 11306 County Line Road, will open as a shelter when the National Weather Service issues local watches. However, the shelter will not open to residents when school is in session. Normal school hours are 7 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

By state law, James Clemens was built with two safe rooms for tornadoes with a combined capacity of 2,000 people. “This is enough to safely house all students and staff,” director of student service Dennis James said.

“The rooms are built to withstand winds up to 250 mph. James Clemens is the only school in the district with certified safe rooms,” James said.

Other schools in the Madison district were built before the state mandate to provide safe rooms for dangerous weather. James Clemens will be the only school open to the public as a safety shelter.

If school dismisses early for severe weather, the shelter will open after students leave the building. The public can receive notifications about the shelter opening on the city website (madisonal.gov), Madison Police Department announcements by Nixle (nixel.com) and posts from Madison Fire and Rescue Department to Facebook/Madison Fire-Rescue.

City Emergency Management Agency officials have established several procedures, James said. All shelter visitors must sign in and out. Visitors cannot bring perishable food items, alcohol, firearms, glass containers or tobacco products.

A family can bring one cooler, nine quarts maximum. Inside the shelter, visitors can use audio devices only with headphones. “Ball playing or rough play is not allowed,” James said.

Visitors can bring pets, but the animals must be in a crate. Each individual is responsible for clean up. Visitors can bring folding chairs but no folding lounge chairs.

“We are proud to partner with the city to provide this community service,” James said.

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