Construction to begin on community center/storm shelter in Tuscaloosa

Dome Technology will soon break ground on a community safe shelter in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority (PARA) contracted with Dome Technology to build the FEMA-designed dome, which will meet ICC 500 specifications.

When complete the structure will stand 128 feet in diameter and 43 feet high and feature one regulation basketball court with bleachers and restrooms. The new building will be located just north of the existing McDonald Hughes Community Center; a covered walkway will connect the two buildings.

The City of Tuscaloosa and Tuscaloosa County Commission provided funding for this storm shelter.

“The 2011 tornado that left a one-mile path of destruction through the center of our city and the loss of 52 lives in our community helped us realize the need and value of storm-shelter availability,” PARA public relations and marketing manager Becky Booker said. The storm shelter will be the largest in Tuscaloosa County.

Storm shelters like these are important community assets because they provide protection for those who can’t evacuate, said Dome Technology sales manager Daren Wheeler.

“It can become an evacuation center, a triage center—there’s just a lot of uses for this building. It’s just a win for the community. The best part of it is that these buildings can now compete with any structure out there cost-wise,” he said, noting that when it comes to FEMA criteria, dome safe shelters are usually the most affordable option.