With the ever present potential for bad weather or some other emergency happening; and given that as I am writing this we are just recovering from a very bad windstorm and currently waiting for some more potential bad weather, it seemed fitting to end my three-part series on RAGBRAI safety with some information on the emergency shelter plan that has been developed. This plan is especially important given that we are expecting, at a minimum, some 10,000 riders, plus thousands of support staff and unknown numbers of spectators and party-goers; and they basically have nowhere to go in the event of an emergency.

Therefore, a comprehensive shelter plan has been planned in order to provide a safe location for these people to go during their time in Allamakee County; with emergency shelters established in each community hosting RAGBRAI XLV. These locations can be utilized as a severe weather shelter or as an evacuation location due to other emergency conditions that may arise; especially for Waukon as an overnight town. The shelters within each community will be marked and information posted at the information center in a town and also at campsites within Waukon.

The main focus of the emergency shelter plan itself is primarily directed towards providing shelter during severe weather, especially for the thousands of RAGBRAI riders who will be tent camping throughout Waukon at various campsites, as they will be the most vulnerable to a potential severe weather event. In addition, these shelters will also be available to those coming to watch and participate in the various RAGBRAI activities and for those who are volunteering to help their respective communities also.

We are asking those who are hosting riders at their homes, businesses and other locations; please provide emergency shelter, if needed. If unable to provide such shelter, let your guests know so they can plan for the closest location to go to for shelter, if necessary. We would also pass on to those living along the bike route that they should not be surprised if during bad weather they find some riders trying to seek shelter at their farmhouse or rural residence. Please understand they are just trying to seek a safe location to shelter at until the storm passes.

Within the plan also are the situations that would require us to activate a shelter and these include a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado Warning for Allamakee County, if, during a Severe Weather Watch, there is a possibility of a Sever Weather Warning based on the conditions in the surrounding area, and any other emergency situation that could arise requiring RAGBRAI XLV participant evacuation. The plan’s obvious goal will be to open shelters as soon as possible to allow people time to move to them safely and before any weather impacts the area; especially in Waukon given the amount of people involved and the distances some may have to go.

The following is a quick list of shelters by community. Postville will have the schools, Turner Hall, City Hall and the Community Presbyterian Church. Waterville will have the Elementary School and Harpers Ferry will use the St. Ann-St. Joseph Catholic Church. Lansing’s shelters will include the schools and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Given that Waukon will have the largest number of guests present at one time, 12 shelters were established and include St. Patrick School, St. Patrick Catholic Church, First Presbyterian Church, St. John’s Lutheran Church, the Waukon High School and Middle School, Northeast Iowa Community College Waukon Center, the Waukon Wellness Center, East Elementary School, Main Feature Theater, Zion United Church of Christ and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.

So in closing, I would like to also mention that as RAGBRAI bikes and vehicles make their way through the county and through your towns over the next few days, please have patience and understanding. We want these thousands of people to see Allamakee County for what it is, a wonderful place to live and visit, and we want everyone to be able to go home safely at the end of it all. Thank you.

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