The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

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March 8, 2013

A shelter from area storms

GREENVILLE — The City of Greenville is wanting to build a safe place where residents can find shelter in the event of severe weather or other emergencies.

The city has issued a request for qualifications for a “community safe room” project. Qualified firms wanting to provide engineering and architectural services relating to the design and construction of a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved facility have until March 19 to submit their qualifications.

According to the official description, a safe room is a hardened structure specifically designed to meet FEMA criteria and provide “near-absolute protection” in extreme weather events, including tornadoes and hurricanes. Near-absolute protection means that, based on the current knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, the occupants of a safe room built in accordance with FEMA guidance will have a very high probability of being protected from injury or death.

An especially intense weather event 11 months ago may have helped spur the desire to construct a safe room in Greenville.

Five homes in the Union Valley area were completely destroyed by a tornado which passed along and either side of the Hunt/Rockwall county line on April 3, 2012.

The City of Greenville suffered a direct hit from at least one tornado on May 13, 1985, which destroyed a large section of downtown.

City officials have been attempting for several years to obtain federal grants for a community safe room, which may be included as part of a combined new Fire Station No. 1 and Fire Department Administration Building.

The “bricks and mortar” grants were made available following the events of Hurricane Katrina, in order to assist communities in building facilities which could conceivably act as emergency shelters in the event of natural disasters and other emergencies.

The goal has been to replace the existing Fire Station No. 1 at 1901 Johnson Street and the current Fire Department Administration Building at 2603 Templeton Street.

Fire Station No. 1 opened in 1953. The administration building is housed in the former Fire Station No. 3, which for years had sat vacant before being put to use when the Fire Department moved from the former Henson Building downtown.

Those wanting information about submitting a statement of qualifications can contact Brenna Hazelip with the City of Greenville at 903-457-3177. Details concerning the request for the proposals can also be found on the city’s web site at www.ci.greenville.tx.us.

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