Little Rock is using funding from a federal grant to build tornado safe rooms at two of its community centers.
The city received funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to place safe rooms at the Dunbar Community Center and the Ottenheimer Therapeutic Recreation Center.
One-fourth of the $118,324 cost is being paid by the city, with the remainder being funded by the grant.
The two locations were chosen because they provide youth services to what is considered "vulnerable populations," city staff members said. As more grant funding becomes available, the city hopes to add safe rooms at other centers.
"We've been working on this concept for a period of time. We wanted diversity from a geographical standpoint," City Manager Bruce Moore said about choosing the first sites. "Dunbar made sense, because we've used that as an emergency operations center just about in every disaster we had.
"We thought we only were going to get one shelter. When we got enough money for two, we looked at southwest Little Rock," Moore said.
The Dunbar safe room will be able to hold up to 100 people.
The Ottenheimer safe room will be able to hold up to 70 people.
The structures primarily will be for the centers' staff and members, such as children on site, during the event of a tornado. If the people on site don't fill the safe rooms to capacity, community members would be invited in.
They'll be made from steel and placed on concrete slabs.
Harbor Enterprises LLC is the contractor selected to build the rooms. The company was the lowest responsible bidder to respond to the city's request for proposals.
These are the first tornado safe rooms to be installed at city facilities.
Metro on 11/22/2017