Every spring, tragic stories abound of the devastating effects of tornadoes. One such example is the EF-5 tornado that ripped through Smithville, Mississippi in April 2011. In addition to destroying numerous town structures, this particular tornado passed right over the high school and flattened the gym.
Fortunately this story has a happy ending. The Monroe County School District was notified that it has received a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to build a new Monolithic Dome gym for Smithville High School that will double as a disaster shelter.
According to an article in the Monroe Journal, the new gym will seat 800 for basketball and approximately 1,100 to 1,200 for other events. The building is scheduled for completion in Fall 2013.
“No doubt, we’re excited,” Greg Haynes, the high school basketball coach, told the newspaper. “When you consider having a year or two years without a place to call your own, that’s tough. These kids have been real resilient, never heard any of them complain or fuss or even ask questions. They just do what they’ve got to do.”
Monolithic Dome buildings qualify for FEMA grants because they meet the agency’s standards for near absolute protection from tornadoes and hurricanes. Other school districts that have qualified for FEMA grants are located in Kansas, Missouri and Texas.