White-Spunner Construction, Inc. Building Alabamas First Shelter Rated to Withstand Category 5 Hurricanes
[Mobile, AL] White-Spunner Construction, Inc. has begun construction on a coliseum and arena for the Baldwin County Cattle & Fair Association in Robertsdale, Ala. The unique facilities will become the states first tornado shelter able to withstand wind gusts of up to 200 miles per hour. Centrally located in Baldwin County, Ala., the coliseum will serve as a shelter that can accommodate 5,000 people short-term during a hurricane or tornado and up to 1,900 people long-term. Being the first shelter of its type, designed as a public fairgrounds facility, and the largest project ever funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the project has become a model for other states.
The Coliseum, the first of its kind, will be a shelter that also serves as an expo hall or large event venue the rest of the year. With the ability to serve as a communications headquarters in the event of a hurricane, the area will be served by underground utilities but will also have large back-up generators. A large area for RV parking is available to emergency vehicles coming to the area after a disaster. The coliseum has a 200x200 square foot expo hall, with a two-story high area open to the ceiling, with offices and a kitchen around the sides of the building. The large kitchen area has walk-in coolers for bulk storage, and is specifically designed to house and feed large numbers of people for an extended length of time.
The 3,500-seat, 79,000-square foot arena will be located adjacent to the coliseum. The open-air structure, rated to withstand 140-mile-an-hour winds, includes a sprinkler system that will keep dust levels down on the dirt-floored arena, a water system to clean arena seats, and ceiling fans over the bleacher-style seating that span 20-feet. Such features will provide premier accommodations for an active cattle association and fairgrounds throughout the year.
This structure is a significant feat of engineering when you consider the strength needed to keep a roof on an open-air structure intact during strong wind gusts associated with a hurricane, said Tommy Rowe, White-Spunner Construction division manager and overseer of the project. Recently poured concrete footings for the arena are four feet six inches wide, four feet deep and 360 feet long and will support the two walls of the structure.
The arena itself is not appropriate as a shelter, but it is important that in a storm of significant magnitude, such as a Category 4 hurricane, the arena will still be standing and, more importantly, people inside the coliseum will be fine even if riding out a Category 5 storm, said Rowe. As witnessed a year ago a Category 5 Hurricane with winds in excess of 155 miles per hour, such as Katrina, can cause complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings, some complete building failures, and flooding damage to lower floors of all structures near the shoreline (according to the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale - http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutsshs.shtml).
This building fills a definite need since there are no shelters in the area capable of withstanding a Category 2 storm according to a 2001 Hurricane Evacuation Study for Baldwin County, by the State of Alabama, Baldwin County in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers. (http://chps.sam.usace.army.mil/)
Additionally, the project was uniquely funded through a mix of funding sources and is now being considered a model projectnot only because its unique building structure, but because of the way funds were put together. A $7.5 million grant, administered through FEMAs Hazard Mitigation Grant program, represents a majority of the total project cost and is the largest amount ever awarded through this program. The Baldwin County Commission and the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association will provide the remaining $2.6 million of the projects cost and was able to receive a loan for this purpose from the United States Department of Agriculture.
White-Spunner Construction, Inc. is a general contracting and management company based in Mobile, Alabama with branch offices in Orange Beach, Alabama; Dallas, Texas and Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Incorporated in 1981, White-Spunner Construction is committed to safety, quality and integrity. One of the leading construction companies in the South, White-Spunner Construction is licensed in 32 states and works closely with clients on multi-family, industrial, commercial and retail projects. White-Spunner Construction prides itself on completing every project on time, on schedule and within budget. For more information, visit www.white-spunner.com or call 251-471-5189.
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