Construction of tornado-safe buildings boomed after Joplin

Building boom for tornado safe buildings

The deadly destruction from the tornado in Perryville this week has many of you making a safety plan for your home and family.

5 on Your Side discovered many local school districts recently took action, to get ready for a worst case scenario.

According to state records, and industry experts, the number of newly-built, tornado-safe buildings in Missouri has tripled since the Joplin tornado in 2011.

"Before the Joplin tornado and the tornado that hit the St. Louis airport, there were maybe 50 tornado safe buildings in the state of Missouri," said Brad Erwin with Paragon Architecture. "But after that there's been more than 150 designed and constructed, since 2012, so in less than five years, we've tripled the amount of tornado safe rooms across the state."

Erwin's firm builds the tornado-safe structures and also helps local school districts with the grant process that helps pay for them.

The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program from FEMA distributes money to states for the safe zones. Erwin says with the possible exception of Iowa, no state has put up more tornado-safe buildings in recent years than the state of Missouri.

"Missouri's been a real role model in this area," Erwin said. "These structures are designed to withstand winds of up to 250 mph, the same strength as an EF5 tornado."

Troy Buchanan High School in Lincoln County recently built a new gym and performance center that also serves as a tornado-safe building.

The Orchard Farm School District, in St. Charles County, also built an early childhood center with a tornado-safe room.

In St. Francois County, Farmington R-7 school district also built a tornado safe room as an addition to their kindergarten building.

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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