The Ottumwa Courier

July 22, 2013

Iowa school district to show off new 'safe room'


Ottumwa Courier

---- — DANVILLE, Iowa (AP) — School officials in the southeast corner of Iowa were set Sunday to unveil a new safe room that is designed to withstand severe tornadoes.

The Danville Community School District's $1.9 million structure is one of 37 that have been approved in more than two dozen Iowa school districts in the past five years, the Hawk Eye in Burlington reported (http://bit.ly/1bR8D63) Saturday.

Safe rooms are structures deemed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as providing "near-absolute protection" in a tornado.

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds from FEMA provided the Danville district just under $1 million for the structure. The balance was paid through a mixture of state funding and school district dollars.

The Danville's safe room has the ability to withstand wind speeds of 250 mph seen in the strongest EF5 tornadoes, which can damage to reinforced concrete structures and remove bark from trees.

The safe room, which is next to the elementary school, also won't sit empty until the next dangerous storm, District Superintendent Gary DeLacy told the newspaper. "It will also serve as an early childhood center for kids 2 weeks old to age 5," he said.

That's standard across the state, said Linda Roose, mitigation project officer with the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.

"All school safe rooms will be multi-purpose rooms to include auditoriums, weight/wrestling rooms, classrooms, sports complex areas and school activity rooms," Roose said.

A safe room under construction in the Burlington School District is scheduled to be completed in October. Fort Madison School District's safe room was also recently completed.

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Information from: The Hawk Eye, http://www.thehawkeye.com