Emergency Shelter Ready for Hurricane Season
[Mobile, AL] White-Spunner Construction, Inc. announces the completion of the disaster shelter that can accommodate 5,000 people during a short-term emergency while being pounded by 200 mile-per-hour sustained winds.
Its not your grandpas fallout shelter, says Tommy Rowe, executive vice-president, division manager, owner, for White-Spunner Construction, Inc. Imagine an expansive expo hall with an airy open feel, but one that will withstand a 15 pound, 12-foot long 2x4 flying at 100 miles per hour from any direction.
The new arena and coliseum housing the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association (BCCFA) in Robertsdale, Ala. was completed in January 2008.
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. Its unique, bunker-style structure and the adjacent open-air arena are built with stringent guidelines that are unheard of in building projects today, says Tommy Rowe.
The arena seats 3,500 people, and because it is close to the coliseum which is intended as a shelter, the arena also had to meet more stringent standards to keep it from becoming a hazard in a storm. That facility, without walls, can maintain its roof in up to 140 mile per hour winds and footings were 4 ft 6" wide x 4 ft deep and 360 ft. long.
The project is a unique construction challenge, says Rowe, In order to meet stringent FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) building codes that require the entire building be capable of withstanding 200-mph winds, many of our supplies and materials had to be custom built.
Features Built to Withstand Mother Nature
The coliseum can withstand 200 mile per hour sustained winds. Any inch of the structure can be hit with a 15 pound, 12-foot long 2x4 flying at 100 miles per hour without damage. The roof can withstand a falling object of 67 miles per hour.
In order to resist uplift forces of 200 mph winds, interior concrete footings 14x14 ft. and 20" deep.
The walls have impressive strength. Built of 12" CMU (concrete masonry unit) with two #7 rebar reinforcing every cell. In laymans terms, this means the solid concrete 12-inch wide walls had 7/8" steel bars every 8 inches throughout the structure.
Typical roof construction calls for a lightweight concrete topping or insulation and membrane over metal decking, but this one has 6" thick solid concrete roof, to account for wind uplift and the debris impact.
Safety was even built into the building exits. Protective alcoves with concrete right-angled walkways protect the exit doors from wind driven debris while allowing the door to be functional for emergency exits. The glass entry doors are protected by wind and debris impact-resistant roll up doors.
A 1000KW generator is required to power the facility in the event that power is lost. The generator powers 100 percent of the Coliseum.
A 2000 gallon fuel tank will provide approximately 50 hours of run time for the generator on one tank. Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency will refuel the tank when needed in emergency situations.
The project is mostly funded with a $7.5 million grant from FEMAs Hazard Mitigation Grant program. The Baldwin County Commission and BCCFA provided the remaining portion of the projects $9 million cost through a loan from the United States Department of Agriculture.
The new coliseum will be open to the public for weddings, proms, balls, college fairs, and other community activities. The BCCFA plans to operate and maintain the facility year round, until there is an emergency. At that point the keys are turned over to the Baldwin County Emergency Management Association that will take over the facility and operate it until the emergency is over.
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