Federal Emergency Management Agency approves plans for schools in six Missouri counties to shelter total of more than 4,500 students, staff, and residents during severe storms
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Today, the State Emergency Management Agency announced more than $9 million in grant funding has been approved to build tornado safe rooms in six Missouri school districts. The federal grants for school districts in Dunklin, Henry, Ozark, Shannon, Texas, and Wright counties will pay for 90 percent of the cost of the safe rooms, which are designed to shelter a total of more than 4,500 students, staff, and area residents during severe storms.
“Our children are our most precious resource, and we must work to help ensure their safety against every type of risk, including severe weather while they’re in school,” Governor Mike Parson said. “Missourians know all too well the destruction tornadoes can bring to schools and communities. I applaud our districts for being proactive and taking advantage of these grants to improve facilities and expand educational opportunities.”
According to the approved safe room plans:
- Dunklin County’s Holcomb R-III School District would build a stand-alone safe room on its K-12 campus capable of protecting 847 students, staff, and residents. It will also serve as a gymnasium.
- Henry County’s Lakeland R-III School District would build a safe room attached to the current building on its K-12 campus capable of protecting 541 students and staff. It will also serve as a multi-purpose/weight room.
- Ozark County’s Gainesville R-5 School District would build a safe room attached to the middle school building capable of protecting 930 students, staff, and residents. It will also serve as a multi-purpose space.
- Shannon County’s Summersville R-II School District would build a stand-alone safe room on its elementary school campus capable of protecting 411 students, staff, and residents. It will also serve as a multi-purpose space.
- Texas County’s Cabool R-IV School District would build a safe room attached to the middle school building capable of protecting 602 students, staff, and residents. It will also serve as music and band classroom space.
- Wright County’s Hartville R-II School District would build a safe room attached to the current building on its K-12 campus, capable of protecting 1,201 students, staff, and residents. It will also serve as classroom space.
- The competitive, federal Pre-Disaster Mitigation grants were accepted by the school districts last week and require a local contribution of 10 percent of the cost of the safe rooms. The FEMA grant program provides 75 percent funding for approved safe room projects, which rises to 90 percent for communities meeting small size and low-income level requirements.
Community safe rooms are specially designed and engineered structures, built to withstand 250 mile per hour winds, often utilizing 14-inch precast concrete and steel-reinforced doors. Walls and roof sections are capable of withstanding impacts from windborne debris.
Currently, Missouri has 223 completed safe rooms across the state, 190 of which are in schools, utilizing FEMA hazard mitigation grant funds. In all, the completed projects and those being designed and constructed in the state would be capable of protecting more than 232,000 Missourians.
The federal share of the Cabool project is approximately $877,000. The federal share of the Gainesville project is approximately $2.04 million. The federal share of the Hartville project is approximately $2.02 million. The federal share of the Holcomb project is approximately $1.83 million. The federal share of the Lakeland project is approximately $1.2 million, and the federal share for the Summersville project is approximately $1.08 million. The local applicants still must meet all federal program requirements.
FEMA also approved $567,000 in grants for two planning projects under the annual competitive grant program. These two planning projects will fund the update of hazard mitigation plans for 23 counties and Missouri Rural Electric Cooperatives. Counties covered by this planning activity include: Butler, Callaway, Clinton, Crawford, Dallas, DeKalb, Dent, Douglas, Johnson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lewis, Madison, Miller, Morgan, Nodaway, Osage, Ozark, Polk, Shannon, Shelby, Stone, and Washington.
The purpose of hazard mitigation is to reduce or eliminate long-term risk from threats to people and property.
“The Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants are a competitive national program,” State Emergency Management Agency Acting Director Jim Remillard said. “It is impressive for these eight projects, including six tornado safe rooms to receive FEMA approval and funding of more than $9.6 million. We’re proud to work with the local grant recipients and our federal partners to help protect children and all Missourians.”