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Friday, September 14, 2007

Ohio May Get Domes: FEMA Backs Building Above-Ground Storm Shelters

NEWARK (TDB) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency appears ready to approve funds for constructing monolithic dome community disaster shelters near six mobile home parks in Ohio's Licking County. These types of structures have been popping up in recent years in states that are subject to severe weather. The photo shows a domed public school complex under construction in Missouri, where the prairie region is considered Tornado Alley. The Monolithic Dome Institutes's website offers descriptions of typical designs and plans for such structures here.

Licking County is in Central Ohio near Columbus, and officials there have been seeking FEMA funds to build the shelters. FEMA has notified the county that it is interested in helping build the domes, but no final deal is in place. The Monolithic Domes Institute says the preliminary approval is a major step toward putting domes in Ohio, a state that has had its share of severe weather deaths over the years. Licking County often gets battered.

"Its Emergency Management Agency (EMA) ranks Licking County tenth in the state for tornado activity. Seventeen tornadoes have ripped through Licking County since 1958, leaving one dead, 26 injured, $30.3 million in property damage and $110,000 in crop destruction. In addition to tornadoes, Licking County has reported 111 severe thunderstorms since 1956. They killed three persons, injured 21 and caused $3/3 million of property damage."

Dome suppoters contend the sstructures not only withstand the big winds, they can also do double duty purposes other than shelter. A library or a community center are potential alternatives -- until a storm arrives. And putting the domes next to the mobile home parks seems like a no-brainer -- people who live in trailers are at risk anytime the clouds roll in and the wind picks up.

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