The shelter holds up to 300 individuals and represents the first of three shelters to be built courtesy of approximately $1.14 million from three separate Hazard Mitigation Program grants awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in October 2012.
Construction for similar shelters at Helen Keller School of Alabama and E.H. Gentry Technical Facility will begin at a date to be determined.
For the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind to receive the grant money, the institute matched 25 percent of the construction costs for each structure — a total value of $127,000 per structure according to information provided by AIDB’s Director of Institutional Advancement Lynne Hanner.
The initiative for bringing new shelters to AIDB began with former AIDB President Terry Graham’s concerns following the destruction caused by the April 27, 2011, tornadoes that ravaged the state.
“It is a day that none of us will ever forget in our lifetime,” Graham said following the announcement the institute had received the grants. “We watched all that day as deadly tornadoes destroyed lives and property all over our state. Two AIDB pre-schoolers were snatched from their grandmother’s arms and killed in Tuscaloosa. Then that evening, I was horrified when James Spann gave a tornado warning for Talladega County and advised that Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind should be in our safe place. I can only imagine the devastation that could occur if a tornado made a direct hit on our campuses, which are so densely located and populated. We knew that we had to take every precaution possible to protect our students from such a disaster.”
Current AIDB President Dr. John Mascia welcomed the new additions in hopes of continuing to foster a protective environment for the youth served at the institute’s campuses.
"The safety of our children and consumers is our utmost priority, and we are grateful to see the completion of this process for these three facilities,” Mascia said. “These buildings are a place where our students and staff will be safe, if God forbid we ever have a serious tornado like the ones that caused so much destruction in Alabama. These safe rooms are built to strict FEMA standards.
"AIDB has suffered damage from storms in the past, just recently damaging buildings on our Gentry campus,” Mascia added. “We are most grateful for this investment in our students' safety and hope we can rest easier during the tornado outbreak season.”
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