Part 4. Permanent Community Centers/Temporary Shelters

Part 4: Community Centers in Advance of Disaster

Community Center

Multi-Purpose Community Center Diagram-Robert Gordon Architecture/Planning

Another example would be to provide buildings that are immediately useful, but could be used in case of disaster. This is not money thrown away because it remains an asset to the community, before, during and after a catastrophe. Lately we have seen a promising example of this type of  planning.  In Texas, a prototype has been built for community centers that actually are useful in the present, whether or not there is a disaster, and can also be used for temporary shelter in the event of a disaster. A recent New York Times story [i] described the planning of 28 “hybrid” buildings, to be used first as community facilities, (gymnasiums, recreation centers, community markets) and if needed, as shelters during disasters.. They will be built with150’ diameter prefab dome roofs over foundations of heavy reinforced concrete dug 30 feet into the ground in order to withstand winds of over 200 mph. The plan calls for structures in 11 counties in the Rio Grande Valley. So far, $34.5 million has been awarded for this work. One of these building is already built in Edna, Texas, at a cost of $2.5 million. It will be a gymnasium and community center. The open plan can contain plumbing, heating, Internet hookup, laundry room, showers, and toilets so that they can be immediately useful, but can then transition to emergency shelters when required. Planning for disaster centers can create immediate local assets like large, attractive spaces for community meetings, gymnasiums, health centers, schools, child care facilities, restaurants. They can also be used to protect people during hurricanes or floods.

[i] Dual-Use Domes Are Shelter in a Storm, New York Times, 12/31/12.


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