Private Safe Room Initiatives

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Region V

Preble County Council on Aging Community Safe Room:
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Ohio state graphicA new senior center in Ohio was constructed with a safe room incorporated into the facility. The safe room also is used for meetings and as an exercise room. The shelter was constructed in accordance with  FEMA P-361, Design and Construction Guidance for Community Safe Rooms, and local Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

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Region VI

GM and UAWs Help with the Oklahoma Residential Shelter Initiative:
Picture of OklahomaWhen the F-4 tornado hit the General Motors (GM) assembly plant in Oklahoma City in May 2003, several of the plant buildings were severely damaged and had to be closed for several months. While no one was seriously injured at the plant, many workers were left without a place of employment. However, many of these workers continued to receive an income, thanks to a joint program between GM and the United Auto Workers (UAW), called the “Job Bank Program.” This program keeps workers on the payroll after their jobs have been eliminated, or after they have been laid off. Workers are put into a protected status and may be offered non-traditional work. Because of this program, UAW members were able to partner with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (ODEM) and FEMA to assist the tornado victims. Together, they were able to help the tornado victims receive assistance to build a safe room.

In October, just a few months after the tornado disaster, Oklahoma’s Governor announced the creation of a Residential Shelter Initiative that would provide more than $3 million in rebates available to Oklahomans for the construction of safe rooms and storm shelters. GM management recruited and organized 20 inactive UAWs to staff the safe room registration phone lines for 6 weeks. The UAW workers also helped to process the massive amount of paperwork generated by such an initiative (e.g., stuffing envelopes and mailing out the safe room registration forms to qualified callers).

Thanks to the GM-UAW Job Bank Program, the funds normally spent to pay ODEM and FEMA employees to staff the safe room registration phone lines were available for more safe rooms. This resulted in a win-win situation for everyone involved. The joint effort saved time and expense for ODEM and FEMA, provided employment for the GM workers, generated additional money for the construction of safe rooms, and resulted in a safer community.

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Region VII

Clara Barton Hospital/Clinic Shelter:
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Picture of KansasOn April 21, 2001, an F-4 tornado struck Hoisington, Kansas (population 2,975), extensively damaging the clinic wing of Clara Barton Hospital. The destruction and potential loss of life prompted state emergency management and the hospital’s administration to consider constructing a storm shelter at the facility to provide protection for patients and staff during severe weather events. Clara Barton Hospital is a Private Non-Profit (PNP) organization that provides critical services to the community and therefore qualifies for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program funds to pay for the shelter construction and design. A special feature of this shelter is the double doors without a center mullion (center vertical support) that allow rolling beds and medical equipment to be moved into the shelter area. These doors were constructed to meet the criteria specified by FEMA P-361, Design and Construction Guidance for Community Safe Rooms.

See Clara Barton Hospital Shelter for more information on this subject.

Kansas State School Shelter Initiative:
After the devastating May 3, 1999, tornadoes, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management (KDEM), which administers FEMA’s mitigation programs in the State of Kansas, and the Kansas Hazard Mitigation Team (KHMT), determined that the best use of mitigation funds would be to construct tornado shelters in Kansas schools. The Wichita Public School District currently has 24 safe rooms, which will serve approximately 7,800 of the District’s 49,000 students for approximately 180 operating school days per year. Since the Wichita Public School District set the example for implementing a school shelter initiative, other Kansas counties and school districts are following the District’s lead. School shelters have been constructed in Butler, Labette, Reno, Sedgwick, and Sumner Counties. As of August 2002, shelters have been constructed in 60 Kansas schools. For a listing of schools, see Kansas State School Shelter Initiatives under Public Safe Room Initiatives.

See Protecting School Children from Tornadoes for more information on this subject.

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Region VIII

ABC Day Care Shelter
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Picture of ColoradoWashington County, Colorado, officials wanted to provide a place of refuge for children and staff at the ABC Day Care Center. The basement of the facility was converted into a shelter/multi-purpose room that is frequently used as a nap room by the day care center. The shelter was constructed in accordance with FEMA P-361, Design and Construction Guidance for Community Safe Rooms, and local Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

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Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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