Dome gym

The Monolithic Dome gymnasium at Tidehaven High School in Texas. This dome served as a community shelter for people affected by Hurricane Harvey. (Andrew Seigrist)

Domes provide shelter after Hurricane Harvey

When Hurricane Harvey barreled over southeast Texas, it dropped more than 50 inches of rain. Between the rain and reservoirs overflowing, many homes were flooded and residents displaced. Shelters were established throughout the area, including at the convention center and the NFL stadium. Unknown to some, residents also took shelter inside FEMA approved Monolithic Domes in the area.

In Victoria, Texas, residents were admitted to the Tom O’Connor, Jr. Athletic Center at St. Joseph High School. School president Thomas Maj stated that the weekend of the storm, from Thursday night through Sunday night, 370 people stayed in the gym. Set up by the American Red Cross, people were supplied with food and bedding and were allowed to use restrooms and showers.

Officials in the area opened a second dome shelter, this one at Bloomington Elementary school in Bloomington. Those who sought shelter there were asked to bring their own water, food, and bedding.

In the different area of El Maton, officials opened the dome at Tidehaven High School to be used as a shelter. This FEMA dome served as a base of operations for the county emergency services and first responders. Tidehaven superintendent Andrew Seigrist reported that the dome did not receive any damage from the storm. “I couldn’t be prouder of the way the dome performed during a category 3 hurricane,” he said.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, provides grants for storm shelters and many Monolithic Domes in areas at risk for tornadoes or hurricanes have been partially funded by FEMA. These are used in times such as these to provide support as community shelters. Monolithic Domes are disaster resistant and have proven to survive various natural disasters.

After disasters such as these, many people feel inclined to donate to the relief efforts underway. People need to be careful and only donate to legitimate organizations whose mission is clear. If you are interested in donating to Harvey and Irma relief efforts, go to the American Red Cross or One America Appeal, organized by the former living presidents.

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Dome and school

A wide view of the dome and adjacent school. (Andrew Seigrist)

Gym floor

The inside of the dome, showing the full view of the gym floor. (Andrew Seigrist)

Side view of gym

A side view of the gym, where the stands and concessions area can be seen. (Andrew Seigrist)


A concessions area off the gym. (Andrew Seigrist)

Another dome

The Tom O’Connor, Jr. Athletic Center gymnasium at St. Joseph High School in Victoria, Texas where people also took shelter. (St. Joseph High School)