The Blue Springs School District is two for two when it comes to receiving grants to construct tornado safe rooms.
The school district has received its second Safe Room Grant from the Federal Management Agency. Both grants will be used to construct tornado safe rooms at James Walker and James Lewis elementary schools. There's no specific dollar amount on the grant. It s a 75/25 grant, which means FEMA will reimburse the district for 75 percent of the project costs.
“I think its awesome,” said Dan Anderson, director of buildings and grounds for the Blue Springs School District, of the second grant. “Anytime you can get assistance to help the community, students and parents is awesome.”
Like with James Walker, the first step is to complete the design process for the safe room/multipurpose room. Those plans are then submitted to FEMA. Construction on both rooms is expected to begin sometime next year.
The space will serve as a gymnasium during the normal school day. During periods of severe weather, students and staff will locate to the room.
However, when school is not in session, the facility will be accessible to the surrounding community and visitors to nearby Pink Hill Park and the Burr Oak Nature Center during a severe weather event when school is not in session. The safe room/multipurpose room will have a reserve power supply, conditioned air and reinforced walls.
“Once again, like the area surrounding James Walker, there is a high volume of multi-family housing with no basements (near James Lewis),” Anderson said. “This will provide an opportunity for people in these isolated areas to get to a safe room when there is severer weather.”
Anderson said he believes there has been increased awareness of the benefits of tornado safe rooms because of the devastating tornados in Joplin, Mo., two years and in Moore, Okla., earlier this year.
“We very rarely see these extreme tornadoes hit populated areas,” he said. “But when they do, it does bring awareness to the need of these types of shelters.”