McCaskill, Blunt Push for School Tornado Shelters

'I urge FEMA to fully consider these common-sense projects that will save lives and reduce future costs by mitigating property damage.'

by Ines Kagubare, The Joplin Globe, Mo. / January 26, 2018

(TNS) - U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt have joined in support of a request for FEMA funding by three school districts in Missouri that have been hit by tornadoes.

In a letter addressed to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, both senators urged the agency to consider the Miller, Neosho and Sparta districts for funding for construction of tornado safe rooms, which would minimize the risk of deaths and injury for nearly 2,300 schoolchildren and residents in surrounding communities.

“Building safe rooms will help protect Missourians in communities that are often hit by severe storms and tornadoes," Blunt said.

“I urge FEMA to fully consider these common-sense projects that will save lives and reduce future costs by mitigating property damage,” he said.

Goodman Elementary School, which is part of the Neosho School District, was destroyed by an EF2 tornado on April 4, 2017.

The district made room for the school's 42 staff members and 330 students at Neosho Middle School.

The board plans to build a 55,000-square-foot structure to house prekindergarten through the fourth grade but is still waiting to reach a settlement with the district's insurance carrier.

It’s also waiting on a grant from FEMA to build a gymnasium that would double as a FEMA-rated storm shelter and accommodate 700 to 800 people.

“This is an exciting example of government working for the people to actually solve real problems,” said Steve Douglas, president of the Neosho Board of Education.

“They’ve both been fantastic, and there’s been no partisan divide," Douglas said of the senators. "This has all been about trying to help the people in McDonald County get the schools built so (students) can go back into their classrooms.”

The Miller School District sustained more than $92,000 in damage in an EF0 tornado that struck its high school on May 19, 2017.

In Christian County, home of the Sparta School District, nearly 30 tornadoes have been reported during the past 50 years, according a news release by the senators.


The three school districts applied for grants aimed at reducing the overall risk to the population and structures while also reducing reliance on federal funding in future disasters, according to the FEMA website.


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