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Tidehaven ISD first in county to get FEMA safe shelter dome

By adriana_acosta
May 25, 2012 at 12:25 a.m.


Dome shaped buildings will soon be seen throughout the Texas Gulf Coast and two will be constructed in Matagorda County.

As part of the Texas Safe Shelter Initiative project, the county applied for grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to build domes as safe shelters.

The safe shelter program was to create $50 million worth of domed safe rooms up and down the coast, created after Hurricane Ike.

Tidehaven Independent School district, the first to get approval, received a $1.8 million grant. A few days after a $50 million bond passed to construct four new schools in the district.

The cost to build the dome is $2.4 million, and with the passing of the $50 million bond, the school will be able to use some of the money to construct the dome.

"We are very excited to have received the news of this grant," said Andrew Seigrist, Tidehaven ISD superintendent.

The 20,000 square-foot shelter dome will be constructed and double as a gymnasium for the school.

Only 75 percent of the base construction costs will be covered by the state, the remaining costs will be paid by the school district.

"We plan to use this gym as a competition gym and use it for other school events," he said.

The dome requirements include having 80 percent of the building as open space in case shelter is needed. The grant will pay for dirt work, site preparations, water, well, sewer and septic installation, said Seigrist.

The grant will also pay for dome, some electrical outlets, toilets and sinks.

The grant will not cover paint, seating, wood gym floors, score boards, said Seigrist.

"This is what we will be able to cover from the bond that was approved," he said.

Another safe shelter dome that is pending approval will be located at Matagorda Regional Medical Center.

"We applied for three shelter domes, but only two were approved," said Doug Matthes, emergency management director for Matagorda County. "It was retracted because of its location."

Matthes said the dome shaped buildings will be able to provide multiple uses. Tidehaven ISD, will double as a gym and the shelter at Matagorda Regional Hospital district will double as a physical therapy workout facility, he said.

"First responders will be able to use this shelter to assess damage when a storm clears," he said. "We may also have people that during a storm may not be able to get out; this will be a place for them to say."

Matthes said the shelter will not however be designed to just shelter people from a storm. "We want them to get out of harms way."

The shelters will have multiple uses and will also be used for any hazardous materials emergency response and nuclear response, he added.

The dome is designed to withstand winds of up to150 mph.

This is a good partnership with the federal government, county, city and school district, he said.

"They will maintain the cost because they get to utilize them and us as a county we won't have to pay," he said.

The Tidehaven ISD shelter is scheduled for completion August 2014.

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