Storm shelters installed at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Storm shelters installed at Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind

Posted: Updated:
TALLADEGA, Ala. -

An east Alabama school system is spending more than $1.5 million dollars on new buildings it hopes it will never have to use.

The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind received grants totaling more than $1 million from FEMA for three safe rooms.  A crew with a crane is on campus this week to assemble the shelters.

Each is made of four 105,000-pound modules and can shelter about 300 people.  With a maximum of 750 to 800 people on campus at one time, the three safe rooms should shelter everyone.

The workers put a safe room outside the Alabama School for the Blind on Monday, assembled a second shelter Tuesday at the Helen Keller School, and plan to place the third unit Wednesday at the Gentry Technical Facility.

Lynne Hanner, the Institute's director of institutional advancement, said a familiar face inspired this long-term project.

"James Spann scared us into what we have done here with the safe rooms.  Because on April 27 [2011], after all the storms had gone through all day, he issued a warning for Talladega County and specifically said AIDB needs to be in a safe place right now," Hanner said.

"You never want to hear your name called, especially in a tornado warning, but hey let's face it, when James Spann rolls up his sleeves and says AIDB be in a safe place, we were making sure we were in a safe place."

Some of the dorms already have designated shelter areas.  There are alert systems with audio warnings for blind students, and video message boards for deaf students.

However, AIDB president John Mascia said he still felt unsafe on April 27th, 2011.  He was in the Gentry dormitory, next to the site of Tuesday's safe room installation, when he heard Spann's warning about the AIDB campus.

"I looked at the 75 or 80 individuals that we had in the dormitory at the time, who are deaf, blind or deaf-blind, and thought that this could be it," Mascia said.

Fortunately, the storms never made it to campus.  The schools' supervisors meet the next morning and decided to get safe rooms.  It was a long waiting period to receive grants, and the school spent about $400,000, but Mascia said it is worth it.

"You can't put a cost on human life.  We're blessed to be able to serve students here, children and adults.  We feel that we owe it to them and their loved ones to keep them safe," he said.

"I can't think of anything more important than being able to look at a parent or a spouse or a loved one and telling them that we're doing everything we can do to make sure that their loved one is safe while they're here in our care," Mascia said.

The director of safety and security, Mike Hubbard, said this is a big improvement over the current safety plan.  Crews will surround the steel modules with brick walls to match the other buildings on campus.  There are small storm windows with weatherproof glass.  The safe rooms have heating and cooling units, and can withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour. 

"As safe as we can make it.  Never hope to use it, but if we have to, we have it," Hubbard said.

"They're all handicap accessible with restrooms in them if [students] have to be inside for a long time.  There is heating and cooling, and they have radios so [staff] can monitor EMA and emergency services," he said.

AIDB plans to have a ribbon cutting in March before the severe weather season begins.

Mascia and Hanner said they hope James Spann will visit and be part of the celebration.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • John Carroll to head Ethics Commission

    John Carroll to head Ethics Commission

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:57 PM EDT2014-09-03 00:57:28 GMT
    Former Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll will serve as acting director of the State Ethics Commission beginning Oct. 1.Ethics Commission Chairman Ed Crowell announced Tuesday that Carroll will fill in when Director Jim Sumer retires Oct. 1 after being the commission's top staff member for 17 years. Crowell says Carroll will not be a candidate for the permanent position. The commission is accepting applications for the permanent position.Carroll spent 13 years as dean of the Cumberland L...More >>
    Former Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll will serve as acting director of the State Ethics Commission beginning Oct. 1.Ethics Commission Chairman Ed Crowell announced Tuesday that Carroll will fill in when Director Jim Sumer retires Oct. 1 after being the commission's top staff member for 17 years. Crowell says Carroll will not be a candidate for the permanent position. The commission is accepting applications for the permanent position.Carroll spent 13 years as dean of the Cumberland L...More >>
  • Poll shows most U.S. parents happy with schools

    Poll shows most U.S. parents happy with schools

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:18 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:18:23 GMT
    A new survey indicates that a majority of parents in the United States with children in public school systems would rate the quality of their children's schools as above average. Among those polled, 66 percent of parents would rate the quality of their child's school as above average or excellent. However, looking deeper in the demographics shows that minority parents are more likely to believe their children's school is average or worse.The study was released by Vox Populi Polling.More >>
    A new survey indicates that a majority of parents in the United States with children in public school systems would rate the quality of their children's schools as above average. Among those polled, 66 percent of parents would rate the quality of their child's school as above average or excellent. However, looking deeper in the demographics shows that minority parents are more likely to believe their children's school is average or worse.The study was released by Vox Populi Polling.
    More >>
  • Video appears to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS

    Video appears to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:15:56 GMT
    An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group.More >>
    An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group.
    More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Deputies in Etowah County arrest three women for chemical endangerment

    Deputies in Etowah County arrest three women for chemical endangerment

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:47 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:47:56 GMT
    The Etowah County sheriff's office arrested three women for chemical endangerment of a child. Investigators charged 28-year-old Ashton Lauren Wood, 25-year-old Jessica Amber Abner and 24-year-old Keeley Elizabeth McCain. Sheriff's Office Deputy Jeremy Lasseter say Wood and her baby both tested positive for amphetamines following the baby's birth. Her bond is set at $10,000. Wood will be supervised by Community corrections and must comply with DHR requirements. She will not be allowed to make ...More >>
    The Etowah County sheriff's office arrested three women for chemical endangerment of a child. Investigators charged 28-year-old Ashton Lauren Wood, 25-year-old Jessica Amber Abner and 24-year-old Keeley Elizabeth McCain. Sheriff's Office Deputy Jeremy Lasseter say Wood and her baby both tested positive for amphetamines following the baby's birth. Her bond is set at $10,000. Wood will be supervised by Community corrections and must comply with DHR requirements. She will not be allowed to make ...More >>
  • Clean out your cabinets for Drug Take-Back Day

    Clean out your cabinets for Drug Take-Back Day

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:38 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:38:07 GMT
    Do you have a drawer or cabinet of medicines? Are any of them out of date? Now is the time to check because you can safely dispose of the medications at the Etowah County Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. It is part of a nationwide effort. The event will be Saturday, September 27. A take-back station will be set up at the East Gadsden Walmart from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.A law enforcement officer will remain with the drug disposal box at all times, and the drugs that are turned in will be tr...More >>
    Do you have a drawer or cabinet of medicines? Are any of them out of date? Now is the time to check because you can safely dispose of the medications at the Etowah County Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. It is part of a nationwide effort. The event will be Saturday, September 27. A take-back station will be set up at the East Gadsden Walmart from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.A law enforcement officer will remain with the drug disposal box at all times, and the drugs that are turned in will be tr...More >>
  • Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:45 PM EDT2014-08-29 16:45:16 GMT
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...