With The Help Of FEMA, Communities Are Building Safe Room Shelters For Severe Weather

One school in Victoria was able to shelter over 300 evacuees during the storm.

By Alexandra Hart and Joy DiazMarch 23, 2018 12:39 pm

Spring is officially here, ushering in warm weather, pollen – and tornado season. The United States gets hit with more tornadoes than anywhere else in the world, and Texas makes up part of tornado alley, where a majority of the country’s tornados strike.

And if that weren’t enough, hurricane season is right around the corner, too. But some communities are building structures – FEMA safe rooms – to provide shelter for extreme weather events. One of those is in Victoria at St. Joseph High School, where hundreds of Harvey evacuees with nowhere else to go took shelter during the storm. Thomas Maj, principal of St. Joseph, says that the previous administration approved the project, hoping to provide a safe place for the community.

“The school has been present in this area for 150 years and sees itself as a partner and neighbor in the community,” Maj says. “They wanted to provide safe secure places for the residents and those in surrounding areas.”

The safe rooms are part of a FEMA project, which provides grants and guidance to communities that want to build the structures.

“They’re dotted up and down the coastline now. There are several in the immediate area, several communities that have these domed safe rooms,” Maj says. “My understanding is that after Katrina, [FEMA] got involved with local communities to provide these types of communities for the local residents.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.