La Vergne designs tornado safe room through FEMA grant

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LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Thursday marks nine months since the March tornado killed more than 20 people in Middle Tennessee.

Despite not being hit by the high winds and rain, La Vergne wants to be proactive against more extreme weather situations. Through a FEMA grant, the city was able to design a 5,700 square foot safe room where 1,140 people could seek shelter from storms.

“It’s a hardened facility so in the case of a tornado that inside section would be protected,” La Vergne Mayor Jason Cole said.

Cole said the tornado shelter would be strategically located near neighborhoods so people could get to the safe room quickly.

“It’s right at the entrance to Lake Forrest subdivision which is the largest subdivision in the state. You’ve got some trailers and single-family homes all behind it,” Cole said.

The concrete paneled walls provide protection to the facility against tornado conditions.

“We would have electronic means to be able to open all the doors at once so that people would have a way to get there, get into that building and get safe,” Cole said.

Cole said FEMA needs to approve the second portion of the grant in order to start construction. The city would be responsible for add-ons to the building and cosmetic features.

Cole said it would cost taxpayers $1.8 million and could be opened within two years of beginning construction.

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