TUTTLE, Okla. – Oklahoma school districts are not the ones taking advantage of federal grant money to build safe rooms.
There are just a few thousand people in Tuttle, Oklahoma.
The downtown area is mostly older properties. None of them were originally designed with a saferoom. Most could not hold up to an EF-4 or EF-5.
However, there is a brand new, state-of-the-art city hall that has a pretty good chance.
It’s a safe room big enough for a thousand people.
City Manager, Tim Young, and his team planned five years for the project.
Most of the first floor of the building is a safe room, including city council chambers.
“It’s a public tornado shelter designed to meet all the FEMA ratings. It’s certified by FEMA. it meets their standards,” said Young.
The safe room also contains an emergency management area, a conference room, a large hallway and bathrooms.
A handful of residents sheltered in the city saferoom on May 20th; 350 took cover there on May 31st.
“We were watching it from right here out of our windows right here, keeping track of it. It touched down just outside our city limits; at the eastern edge of our city. We were definitely in emergency preparedness mode,” Young said.
The total price tag for the entire building was $3,276,468.
The storm shelter portion cost $1,564,671.
The city applied for a $1,173,503 million FEMA grant. FEMA pays 75 percent of the cost of applicable a safe room.
In the end, Tuttle paid less than $400,000 for their 1,000-person community safe room.
In larger cities, like Oklahoma City, the official policy is to “shelter in place.”
Larger cities don’t want to encourage residents to travel during severe weather.
But in smaller communities like Tuttle, with a small downtown area, a community shelter is ideal for protecting for residents in need.
In fact, Tuttle has an on-call system in place, so a city employee can unlock the facility after-hours in the event of severe weather.