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Can old nuclear fallout shelters still protect you?

Midwest Museum of American Art // WSBT 22

For some it's a sign of a scary past-- the black and yellow symbol often found on older buildings signifying a nuclear fallout shelter.

But could those shelters still protect you today?

There's an old fallout shelter in the basement of a museum in Elkhart. Even though it looks safe, it hasn't been maintained in years.

"I've never taken this down, it's the first sign,” said Brian Byrn, Director and Curator of Midwest Museum of American Art.

Byrn has heard of this place being a nuclear shelter for people in the cold war Era.

He says this museum used to be a bank in the 50’s and 60’s, when the shelter was active, but it hasn't been maintained since 1970.

"Proof that along the line they had ramped up for the big boom,” said Byrn.

He says this basement was set aside as an area they would only use for shelter.

"Whether or not this was the designated room, I think it would probably encompass the whole lower level,” Byrn said.

The bank was prepared for any kind of disaster-- especially a nuclear attack.

"The bank put in a kitchen, a break room for employees in the late 50’s. They were probably thinking if people had to flee the streets and seek shelter at least there would be water,” Byrn said.

All of the equipment in the former shelter dates back to the 1960’s and was given to the shelter by Civil Defense during the Cold War.

Snacks and water buckets still line the walls of the shelter. If the equipment seems worn down St. Joseph County Emergency Management says so are the shelters.

"I just don't know how adequate it would be sort of like the air changes in that space how do they filter the air you know things of that sort,” said Emergency Management Director, John Antonucci.

There are more nuclear fallout signs on buildings in the area-- like the St. Joseph County City Building. Those have also not been maintained.

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