The city applied for the funds to build the safe room under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provides grants to states and local governments to develop long-term hazard safety measures after a major disaster declaration. Many areas of state qualified for the program after the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak.
Jacksonville’s shelter will be built inside the city’s municipal courtroom at the planned public safety complex. The Jacksonville shelter will be able to hold more than 600 people, making it the largest community shelter in the county.
Though the city formally accepted the funding this week, it will be months more before construction will begin. Jacksonville police Chief Tommy Thompson said crews are expected to begin building the complex in the fall.
In the past two years the fire departments of White Plains, Webster’s Chapel and Ohatchee have all received federal funding for community shelters.
The 2011 tornado outbreak prompted officials across the county to begin looking for money to build community shelters. Though four communities secured the funding, none have finished building a shelter.
White Plains is expected to complete its shelter before 2014, according to the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency.
The city of Piedmont secured federal money for a community shelter in 2009. It used $1 million from FEMA to build a safe room at Piedmont High School. It was used during the April 27, 2011 outbreak by 310 people.
Staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.