A tentative proposal to keep FEMA storm shelters in the area and to allow some of them to perhaps be moved to local nursing homes and day care centers is getting positive reaction.
Leslie Jones, Joplin’s finance director, got the nod this week from the City Council to put together a proposal for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reuse of the concrete storm shelters after they are not needed at temporary sites.
There are nearly 100 FEMA-supplied shelters in use at places such as Hope Haven and Officer Jeff Taylor Memorial Mobile Home Park, which currently offer temporary homes for displaced tornado survivors near the Joplin Regional Airport. Other shelters are located at temporary Joplin schools.
Jones said it would save FEMA the cost of dismantling and removing the concrete buildings, which vary in size. Most hold between 20 and 30 people but some hold up to 50.
Combined, they have the potential to house several thousand residents during a storm.
“I think it is absolutely awesome,” said Terri Malcolm. She and her husband, Ray, own Kid’s Korner Day Care at 2602 Wall Ave. It was destroyed on May 22, 2011, and reopened last month.
“We have wondered about it,” she said of the storm shelters being used in Joplin now.
They looked at putting in one when they rebuilt but couldn’t afford one big enough for their operation. They are licensed for 44 children, plus staff.
“We checked into it. Anything that is suitable for a large number of people has a large price tag on it,” she said. “It was just not doable, especially for people who went a year without income. We actually have room for it right behind our building.”
The city also is considering placing some shelters at city sites in Joplin and Duquesne, such as the Joplin Athletic Complex, the airport, senior center and the Joplin Public Library.
Joplin is prohibited by it charter from giving anything to churches or faith-based schools.