New Tennessee Tornado Shelter to Double as High School Gym

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Rather than renovating an old gymnasium, a Tennessee school district is constructing a new one in a dome that will also serve as a tornado shelter.

According to WAAY31, an ABC affiliate out of Huntsville, Ala., Fayetteville High School’s new gymnasium began with a $5 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The 75/25 grant includes the Fayetteville district putting $1.25 million toward the tornado shelter dome, which will be the first of its kind in Tennessee. Similar domes in Mississippi have seen about an 18-month construction process.

In the case of a storm, the 20,000-square-foot shelter will be open to the community.

“They’re made from reinforced steel and concrete,” Fayetteville athletic director Eddie Keys said of the facility, noting that it is expected to withstand EF-5 tornadoes. “It’s like 250 mph winds they can sustain.”

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