“I wouldn’t say you couldn’t use it during a storm, but until you get them (shelters) finished, you shouldn’t have any kids in here,” Will McCall told a school official and builders during his inspection of the storm shelters.
McCall’s comment means the school system can’t use the storm shelters as classrooms until all the work is completed to transform them into classroom space.
The shelters will eventually be used as classrooms as the student population of Williams Intermediate grows.
“We can’t occupy it as a classroom until we get in heating and air conditioning, but it can be used as a storm shelter,” said Gary Mozingo, facilities supervisor for the Pell City School System.
The two storm shelters are far from being ready as classrooms, but it will provide space for all the faculty and students if a tornado rips through the Pell City area.
One shelter has two unfinished classrooms, while the larger shelter adjacent to the school’s gymnasium has four classrooms. Each classroom has one or two bathrooms.
McCall checked both shelter wings from top to bottom, even climbing a ladder to check the roofing on each structure.
“We’re about to set it off,” Mark Wood with Johnny’s Electric told another electrician over a two-way radio Tuesday.
Wood walked down the hallway of the large shelter and pulled the handle on the fire alarm system.
The emergency lights flashed and the buzzer alarm blared as McCall walked from room to room to check the system.
“Is there a reason why there are not doors (on the classrooms)?” McCall asked.
Mozingo said workers still have to paint the doors.
“They are going to come back and put them in,” he said.
Mozingo said there is still a lot to do to transform the shelters into actual classroom space.
He said the school system will probably install the heating and air units in both shelters before next summer and will complete the inside work next summer when school is out.
Mozingo said school workers will complete work, including painting and flooring, when needed.
He said Goodgame Company, which is charge of the construction of the storm shelters, has 30 days to complete a checklist, and the building inspector will return to re-inspect those items.
The smaller shelter at Williams Intermediate will hold about 234 people, while the larger storm shelter will provide space for about 570 people, plenty of room to hold the current student/teacher population at Williams Intermediate.
“You can’t build a shelter big enough,” Mozingo said.
School officials said a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant is paying for about half of the shelter cost, which totals about $1 million.
The glass on the doors and windows are thick and, along with the building, can withstand the impact from flying debris that accompanies tornadoes. Each of the storm shelters’ windows have heavy metal shutters that lock during a storm. The shelters also have vents to help circulate air when the structures are filled with people.
The new storm shelters can withstand 250 mph winds.
Mozingo said the local EMA will have keys to the shelters, so they can be used by the public after school hours if a tornado watch or warning is issued by the National Weather Service.
Contact David Atchison at firstname.lastname@example.org.