Now emergency managers locally are seeking crucial federal funding as one of the projects to construct several new proposed government buildings with “safe rooms.”
According to Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency director Troy Spence, the plan was approved by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and then forwarded to FEMA for approval.
The mitigation plan was designed to “soften” or prevent impact of a natural disaster.
“We have had quite a few disasters in Bradley County during the past couple of years. Everything we can do to plan ahead and make recovery easier in the case of an event is what the plan is all about,” Spence said.
Safe rooms are being planned for three new proposed fire stations and one new school, and as additions to Lake Forest Middle School and Walker Valley High School.
“During recent tornadoes in 2011 and this year, we have improved public safety awareness and communication to our residents, but we still have had questions regarding where families can go in the event of an impending weather situation. There is nowhere in Bradley County at present but we have filed a grant request with FEMA for funding for these proposed areas where safe rooms can be constructed,” Spence said.
Cory Divel, planning director for Bradley County said new fire stations will be built under FEMA guidelines which require the structures to be able to withstand 250 mph sustained winds and “any associated debris.”
“The structure will also be able to sustain any pressure created by tornado activity,” Divel said.
Each structure will also hold 400 people.
Blue Springs Elementary School was heavily damaged during the April 2011 tornadoes.
One of the proposed shelters is on new property acquired for a new school.
“The Blue Springs project will be able to safely shelter 450 students and population of residents within one half mile from the site,” Divel noted.
“Early 2012, we had another tornado event which caused about $600,000 damage to utilities and around $250,000 to homes. We will continue to evaluate the weather patterns and the damage it is causing to be better prepared to prevent, respond and recover,” said Spence.
“Input for the mitigation plan was received in open meeting with the public, city and county planners, engineers, department heads and others. For now the focus is off flooding and on tornadoes,” Spence added.
“This is due to the nine lives which were lost in Bradley County and the $60 million damage during the April 27, 2011, multiple tornadoes,” he said.
A number of public safety warning systems have been put in place since the tornadoes.
NixlePro was paid for by a donation from the Salvation Army and officials with Cleveland-Bradley County Emergency Management Agency have been working to program the alert system which sends advisories, watches and warnings to telephones (land-based and cellular), texts, and emails.
“NixlePro doesn’t cost our residents anything and we encourage all to visit our website and join,” said Spence.
To join the NixlePro Alert system, or view the new approved Bradley County Mitigation Plan, visit www.bradleyco.net and choose the proper EMA link for each.