- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - The Tupelo Public School District is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency for money to build new tornado safe rooms on four of its campuses.

Superintendent Gearl Loden told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (https://bit.ly/1wGbSWo ) one of the shelters would double as a high school gymnasium.

The grant would pay 90 percent of the construction cost, not including extras added by the district. The facilities would be concrete domes.

Loden said the stand-alone buildings would be located at Tupelo High, Carver Elementary, Joyner Elementary and Thomas Street Elementary.

He said the buildings not only would provide a safe place for students and teachers to go during tornado warnings but also would be used for other purposes, likely as gyms or multipurpose rooms.

They also could be used as shelters by Tupelo residents outside of school hours.

Tupelo High’s current gymnasium has a capacity of about 1,400 to 1,500, which is not big enough for some of the events it hosts. The new safe room would have a capacity of 3,148. It would cost $3.7 million, with the district having to pay $892,877. That would include the 10 percent match, plus other items the grant would not cover like painting, wood flooring, bleachers, ceiling tiles and basketball goals.

The total cost of the four structures would be $5.79 million, with the district having to pay about $1.17 million.

Loden hopes to hear back from FEMA in six to eight months.

Loden said the schools were chosen because of their age and location.

He said he would like to put shelters on other campuses in the future.

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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