Richwood Valley tornado shelter nears completion

Richwood Valley tornado shelter nears completion

Media Contact

Mark Miller
College Director of Communication 417.447.2655 millerm@otc.edu
Laura French
Coordinator of Public Information 417.447.2659 frenchl@otc.edu

By Steve Koehler

The Richwood Valley campus of Ozarks Technical Community College will soon be home to a massive storm shelter for the students, faculty, staff and citizens living near the campus.

The facility, built to withstand 250-mile-per-hour winds, will house 1,382 people. It was built at a cost of $1.5 million with 75 percent of the money coming from a Federal Emergency Management grant and 25 percent from the College.

“The shelter will provide everyone near Richwood Valley with a much-needed place of protection in cases of weather emergencies,” said Jeff Jochems, OTC’s assistant vice president for Administrative Services.

The majority of the work is expected to be completed later this month, but Rector said a six-month extension will be requested from the federal government in order to complete the finishing touches and complete the procedures to receive federal approval of the shelter.

The shelter will be 9,665 square feet in size with 6,911 square feet of usable space. There is also a new parking lot being built to accommodate citizens coming to use the shelter.

There are no tornado safe structures within a five-minute driving radius of the Richwood Valley site. A study by the College showed there are 1,118 people living within a one-mile (five-minute) radius of the campus who could seek protection there.

 “Officials from the College and from the Christian County Emergency Management office will be working to create a plan for community access to the building and to establish points of access to the facility,” said Rob Rector, OTC’s vice president for Administrative Services.

Eventually, the shelter will be used in fair-weather conditions for classes, workforce development training and community events but can be quickly converted into a shelter in case bad weather strikes.

Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College.