Departments – Safe Room

The State of Missouri partnered with the City of Seymour to build a tornado safe room across the street from the high school and middle school campus and next to the elementary and kindergarten schools.  The safe room was designed for a maximum of 1,194 individuals with the target population being the students, teachers and staff of the Seymour Schools. 

The grant was written by Linda Watts, Assistant Emergency Management Director with Webster County Emergency Management.  Linda, along with Bill Sexton, Webster County Emergency Management Director, was a big help during the entire grant process. 

Project Manager was Monte Calfas, who was responsible for monthly progress reports to SEMA and FEMA, as well as being the local contact for any documents or other information that was required or requested by SEMA or FEMA. 

The grant was awarded September 5, 2008 and the contract was signed by the City and by SEMA on October 23, 2008.  On September 11, 2009 the authorization was given by SEMA to proceed with construction of the safe room, which then began in early October. 

The final project cost was $955,313.35.  FEMA provided $653,556.51 and Seymour contributed $301,756.84 for its share of the grant.  The city has also paid $100,000+ for the purchase of the land, improvements to the land and various other items. 

This Safe Room was built in accordance with FEMA 361 guidelines, which must also be adhered to in the usage of the facility.  This safe room is intended to provide protection during a short-term extreme-wind event such as a tornado.  This is not a recovery shelter, or a shelter that can be used as a warming or cooling center.  According to FEMA, the average maximum stay is approximately 2 hours. 

It is possible to use the safe room for other activities, as long as those activities do not interfere with the primary purpose, which is protection against tornadoes.  In the event of a tornado watch, or warning, any items within the public part of the building (chairs, tables, etc.) must be removed immediately to allow the allotted square footage for the public.

Opening Guidelines:

The Seymour Safe Room will be activated when one or more of the following conditions have developed:
  • By request of the National Weather Service.
  • By request of Webster County Emergency Management.
  • When Webster County has been placed in a tornado warning status and severe weather is imminent.
  • After a trained weather spotter in an adjoining county (Greene, Christian, Dallas or Douglas) has located a funnel or wall cloud and movement is toward the Seymour area.
  • Warning of possible straight line wind gusts of 70 MPH or greater has been predicted by the NWS.