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Bill Would Require Weather Radios In Mobile Homes Nationwide

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Mobile homes across the nation would
come equipped from the manufacturer with early warning radios to
alert residents of dangerous weather under a bill announced
Thursday in Washington.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Brad Ellsworth from southern
Indiana's 8th District, mirrors state legislation dubbed "C.J.'s
Law" that sailed through this year's General Assembly. It requires
all mobile homes installed after June 30 come equipped with the
radios that broadcast warnings from the National Weather Service.
"This is about public safety. It's about taking one more
step," Ellsworth, a former Vanderburgh County sheriff and
Democrat, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from
Washington.
As sheriff, Ellsworth oversaw rescue and recovery operations for
days following a tornado that killed 25 people on Nov. 6, 2005.
The storm hit in the pre-dawn hours with winds estimated around
200 mph. Twenty of the storm's victims lived in Eastbrook Mobile
Home Park on the outskirts of Evansville, where emergency officials
said few had weather radios or nearby shelters where they could
have gone as the storm neared.
Opponents of such bills have argued that requiring the radios -
which typically cost around $30 - would not be cost effective in
large scale production for mobile home manufacturers.
The weather service field office in Paducah, Ky., transmitted a
warning 11 minutes before the storm slammed the park, which could
have given some time to escape, Ellsworth said. That alone is
reason to press such precautions outside Indiana, he said.
"It may not save every life, but I do believe it would save
some," he said.
The bill requires mobile homes to come with the state-of-the art
radios installed like smoke detectors. It is the latest of reforms
that came amid a widespread push in the aftermath of the deadly
tornado.
The Evansville-Vanderburgh County Building Commission applied
for a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to build shelters
at Eastbrook. And in June, Vanderburgh County passed an ordinance
that requires mobile homes to be properly tied down with anchors to
hold the build in high winds.
Kathryn Martin, whose son C.J. and two other family members died
in the tornado, was behind the Indiana legislation. It is senseless
for mobile home residents not to have what she argued could be
their only line of protection.
"Anybody who stood in the midst of Eastbrook should know this
is something that's got to be done," Martin said.
Martin was honored Tuesday in Washington with the Jacqueline
Kennedy Onassis Award for her humanitarian work after the storm
that included creating a vehicle to travel to disaster areas
nationwide and comfort displaced children.
The federal bill, also called "C.J.'s Law," is co-sponsored by
Reps. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., Kay Granger, R-Texas, and Spencer
Bachus, R-Ala. Ellsworth said he hopes to gather Republican
support.
"It's not just tornadoes. It could be warnings for mudslides,
fires, high winds," Ellsworth said. "It's not just an Indiana
thing."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved


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