The town of DeLisle sits on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and DuPont’s 2500 acres border the wooded north shore of the Bay of St. Louis. More than a thousand people work at this facility, that’s a major producer of titanium dioxide – a substance mainly used in the production of paints and plastics.
On Sunday, August 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille with her 200+ mph winds and a tidal surge of more than 20 feet began bombarding DeLisle. Camille never left till Monday morning and only after she caused extensive damage to the town and to the shores along the Bay of St. Louis.
Filling the need
Ten years later, DuPont built the DeLisle facility. Its employees include a Hurricane Crew of 20 volunteers that now have their very own Hurricane Shelter – a Monolithic Dome that has a 50-foot diameter, an 18-foot height,1860 square feet of living space with kitchen and bathroom, and a hardened entryway.
When a hurricane warning sounds, all plant employees leave, except for the Hurricane Crew. They go into their Hurricane Shelter and stay there for the duration of the hurricane. Once it passes, the Hurricane Crew immediately begins inspecting the entire facility, assessing damages and initiating repairs.
When not needed for hurricane protection, DuPont uses this dome for meetings and conferences. To our way of thinking that’s another excellent example of a Monolithic Dome’s versatility: one structure but many uses.
For many days after Katrina, Monolithic tried reaching someone in charge at the Dupont plant in Delisle, Mississippi, where last year we had built a Monolithic Dome specifically as a hurricane shelter.
We finally got through to Dupont’s engineer, Jack Seybold. He said that Katrina did more than $100 million of damage to their facility and that this Category 5 hurricane nearly totaled their plant.
Through it all, 30 of Dupont’s Hurricane Crew – professionals who assess damage as quickly as possible after a hurricane – sat secure and comfortable in the Monolithic Dome they originally called the “Hurricane Shelter.”
The Category 5 Shelter
That dome now has a new name: The Category 5 Shelter. According to Mr. Seybold, the renaming came about because Katrina convinced the crew that their dome can stand against anything.
DeLisle experienced Katrina as a Category 5 hurricane, with embedded tornadoes and a water surge 27 feet high. Water rushed over the dykes and came within 150 feet of the dome. Debris, including uprooted trees, pummeled the dome shell.
Mr. Seybold said that, through it all, their Monolithic Dome performed admirably. He said the people inside felt so safe that, several times, they opened the dome’s door to get fresh air. He concluded by saying that early in 2006, Dupont will ask Monolithic to do a presentation for their civil engineers.