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Barricades purchased by Madison County being used for residents' safety during gatherings

The county's new portable vehicle barriers might not look like much by themselves, but in an emergency, they could be best the line of defense.

WINTERSET, Iowa — In just two days, Iowans will be gathering in Winterset for the annual Festival of Lights. Featuring live music, good food and a Christmas parade, there's plenty of fun to be had. 

And Madison County is working hard to keep all the holiday enthusiasts safe.

The county's new portable vehicle barriers might not look like much by themselves. But in an emergency, they could be the line of defense between a holiday celebration and a tragedy— like what happened in Waukesha.

"I wanted to get something that I know that would stop a car or stop anything that would come into a festival, or a parade, again, people are out there, you can kind of see what happened in Wisconsin, the tragedy out there," said Diogenes Ayala, Director of Madison County Emergency Management.

Ayala led the charge to buy those barricades, using a grant from Homeland Security. They're designed to withstand impact from a medium-sized car, but they can be combined to withstand a larger force, such as a semi-truck. 

So, how do they work? The secret is in the spikes on the back of the barricades.

"Once you hit, it'll actually come up. I'm not a truck or a vehicle, but it's gonna stop. [...] As force is coming in, it's going to stop," Ayala said.

As of now, the barricades haven't had to be put to the test in Madison County. Ayala isn't taking that for granted, though; as the saying goes, it's better to be safe than sorry. 

"There's been incidents where people have just lost track of where they're at and ran into something. So we just want to have something that would mitigate threat against our community," Ayala said.

Although they'll be put to use for the Festival of Lights on Friday, the barricades aren't just for Winterset; any city in Madison County is able to use them.

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