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Hurricane-proof domes could provide salvation for those in path of storm

By JR Ortega
June 17, 2014 at 1:17 a.m.

A scene in 2010 during the construction on the $2.1 million to $2.4 million multipurpose dome on the corner of Locke and Myrtle streets in Woodsboro. RM Techcon Construction, of Corpus Christi, is working on the exterior of the building, but most of the work is being done on the inside, said Karen Borden, Woodsboro school district financial manager. The dome serves as a community and school center and a disaster shelter. The dome is a product of Monolithic, which has built domes in several states.

Up until four years ago, the Crossroads was left to declare any sturdy building as a hurricane shelter.

These days, though, the option for the most safe place in any area is within reach.

They are called monolithic domes. At least two are already in use, with one more on the way.

The domes - one each in Woodsboro and Edna - serve as gymnasiums but are built to withstand high winds from hurricanes and tornados. Bloomington school district's dome was expected to be completed last month.

The domes are partially funded through grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Edna school district Superintendent Robert O'Connor said its dome is ready to be appointed as a shelter should a hurricane make landfall.

The site has its own generator, a kitchen and restrooms and can fit about 1,500 people. With cots and any other equipment, the capacity can change.

Stan Upton, emergency management coordinator for Refugio County, said the dome at Woodsboro is not expected to be used as a shelter.

If anything, emergency personnel can use the shelter to wait out the storm. The reason, he said, is because the county is a mandatory evacuation county. Anyone who stays behind will have to ride out the storm on their own.

Woodsboro school district Superintendent Steven Self said though the dome has the ability to be the shelter, it's not the go-to place during a hurricane.

"It could be used as a last resort," he said, adding that an example of a last resort would be if a hurricane threatened the area at the last minute.

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