Schools looking to add 'safe rooms' for severe weather - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Schools looking to add 'safe rooms' for severe weather

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When severe weather strikes, schools look for the best way to protect their students. Twenty schools in Iowa have applied for federal money for a 'safe room' to use as shelter during dangerous weather. 

The grant is apart of Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The program allows schools to apply to help cover the cost of construction of a 'safe room.'

Safe rooms are structures built to with-stand wind speed, wind pressure, and wind-borne debris impacts. Schools in Eastern Iowa, including Waverly-Shell Rock middle and high schools have safe rooms built into their design structure. 

"It doesn't serve only as a safe room," said Waverly-Shell Rock Schools Superintendent Ed Klamfoth. "Here for example, they are regular classrooms, and if it weren't for some special doors and some shutter-like things on the windows, you wouldn't even know it's a safe room."

With the closing of a few doors, and deadbolt door locks, an office and lobby area is turned into a safe room for students. 

Many schools currently face the challenge of finding a space that will protect their students from dangerous winds and even tornadoes. Twenty of these schools have applied for federal money to construct a safe room for their students. 

A close look at an EF-1 tornado shows just how much power mother nature can produce. The devastation left behind by an EF-2 tornado last month in Seymour, Iowa has schools taking precautionary measures before the moment of impact. 

Dike-New Hartford and south Winneshiek are just two of the schools looking to add a safe room, a resource Klamfoth says is invaluable for his students. 

At Waverly-Shell Rock's high school, the safe room is the schools auditorium. In case of severe weather, the auditorium can seat up to 911 students.  

"Last fall at the middle school, we had an event going on over there and we sent everybody," said Klamfoth. "It was after school fortunately, but we sent all the fans and players who were present in the safe room until the storm passed.

The individual cost projected for each school ranges anywhere from $600,000 to upwards of $2 million. The projected cost for a safe room in every school-sits just over $31 million. 

Twenty schools in Iowa have applied for federal money. The full list of schools and projected costs can be found below: 

Applicant Name Project Title Amount
Bettendorf CSD BHS Tornado Safe Wrestling Room $2,537,500.00
Central Community School District Central Community School District Tornado Safe Room Project $1,500,000.00
Central Decatur Community School District Central Decatur CSD-North School Campus safe room Project $1,000,000.00
Clarion-Goldfield Community School Clarion-Goldfield-Dows CSD Elementary Middle School Safe Room $1,250,000.00
Clear Creek Amana CSD CCA Safe Room $2,800,000.00
Davis County Community School District Davis County CSD - Tornado Safe Room $800,000.00
Dike-New Hartford Community School Dike New Hartford CSD Tornado Safe Room $1,330,000.00
Hinton Community School District Hinton CSD Multi purpose safe room project $1,000,000.00
Iowa Falls Community Schools Safe Rooms at Pineview Elementary School $780,000.00
Keokuk Community School District MS/HS Safe Room $2,000,000.00
Keokuk Community School District Hawthorne Elementary Tornado Safe Room $1,125,000.00
Keokuk Community School District George Washington Elementary $625,000.00
Knoxville Community School District Knoxville CSD Tornado Saferoom Wrestling Room $2,700,000.00
Logan-Magnolia Community School District Logan-Magnolia Gym/Safehouse Project $4,000,000.00
Perry CSD Perry Comm. School Tornado Safe Room $2,300,000.00
South Winneshiek Community School District South Winneshiek CSD Multi-Purpose Tornado Saferoom $1,000,000.00
Southeastern Community College Southeastern Community College Saferoom $1,500,000.00
Spencer Community School District Spencer CSD High School tornado safe room project $1,000,000.00
West Fork CSD-Rockwell West Fork CSD - Saferoom Rockwell Campus $868,495.00
West Fork CSD-Sheffield Multi-Use Tornado Safe Room- Sheffield Campus $932,847.00
Total for School Safe Rooms $31,048,842.00

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