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Larry Parham talks about the difficult recovery after the April 27 tornadoes destroyed his Ider, Ala., business and home.
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Like dandelions in springtime, tornado shelters have been springing up all over Northeast Alabama since the deadly tornado outbreak of April 2011.

Now a small shelter is being sought for the town of Ider in DeKalb County, an area pummeled by twisters in the last few years.

"This is a community shelter for those with nowhere else to go," DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency deputy director Michael Posey said Monday after a planning meeting with Ider officials.

If built, the shelter on land DeKalb County Schools sold to the town of Ider will have a capacity for 50 people, he said. The proposed location is at the intersection of Dogwood Drive and Alabama Highway 117, next to the town's senior center.

Ider, a town with a population of a little more than 700, was among the communities in the path of an EF5 twister on April 27, 2011, a storm that tore a half-mile-wide swath through the area with winds of more than 200 mph. In some areas, the storm was three-quarters of a mile wide. EF2 and EF3 storms also traced lines of destruction through the Ider and Henagar areas later the same day.

In DeKalb County alone, tornadoes that day claimed 35 lives, at least two of them in Ider.

Another outbreak of tornadoes on April 28, 2013, produced EF1 and EF2 tornadoes that played along a similar path.

With a capacity of 50, the proposed shelter can't house students at nearby Ider School, where storm plans are to shelter in place. The shelter is intended to house people who have no shelter at all, like mobile home residents, officials said.

If the proposed shelter in Ider is funded it will bring the number of public storm shelters in DeKalb County to nine, Posey said. Valley Head, Henagar, Sylvania, Rainsville, Shiloh, Geraldine, Crossville and Fyffe already have shelters, Posey said.

"We actually are working now on submission of the grant," Posey said.

The cost of Ider's shelter is estimated at $91,300, and the grant sought is hoped to cover about $68,000 of the cost. The town will match grant funds with a combination of cash and in-kind work, Ider Mayor Wendy Lassetter said.

Ider is the last municipality in the county to install a storm shelter, and Lassetter hopes the structure can serve multiple purposes, she said.

Ider's will be built above ground on piers that anchor it into the earth. When it's not sheltering people from storms, the structure could be used for community or private events or as a command post during other kinds of emergencies, Lassetter said.

Posey said that if the grant is awarded over the summer, the shelter could be usable by spring 2016, but Lassetter said she wouldn't be surprised if it took another year.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@times freepress.com.

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