On March 7 northeast Mississippi’s Daily Journal published an article highlighting two Dome Technology domes being built as safe shelters near high schools in Pontotoc, Mississippi.
Both domes will stand 116 feet in diameter with a 23-foot-high dome atop a 14-foot stem wall. One safe shelter will service North Pontotoc High School, and the second will be located on South Pontotoc’s campus; the structures can shelter approximately 1,100 people apiece. Completion is expected in December 2017, and the shelters will be used as multi-purpose classrooms when not needed during storms.
Pontotoc County School District will pay 10 percent of the cost for each structure, and FEMA funds will cover the remaining 90 percent. According to the Daily Journal article, the school district will tack on an additional 10 percent in optional features.
Dome Technology builds freestanding safe shelters like these for communities all over the U.S., especially in areas prone to tornadoes and hurricanes. Often a portion of the construction cost is funded by FEMA grant dollars; through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, projects in accordance with ICC-500 codes can qualify for government funding covering a portion of the project’s exterior or shell.
For a safe shelter to qualify for federal funds, certain qualities must be present. The structure must be able to withstand windborne debris, providing a protective layer that prevents penetration from outside objects. The shelter must tolerate specified sustained wind speeds; hurricane shelters must withstand up to 200 mph winds, and tornado shelters must withstand up to 250 mph winds. Sufficient open space must also be available inside for sheltering as many people as possible.
Dome Technology concrete domes can meet these criteria, and since 2012, the company has completed 20 safe-shelter projects.
Domes are especially suited for weather resistance thanks to geometry. Their robust nature “comes from the fact that the dome has a monolithic construction and also the shape of the dome—it helps distribute applied forces across the entire surface of the structure,” engineer for Dome Technology Mike Gibbs said.
For more information, visit our article on storm shelters.