Altus AFB gains new storm shelters

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Megan E. Acs
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Construction on Altus AFB for three new underground storm shelters completed Nov. 9, 2015. The shelters are to be used by 97th Security Forces Squadron members and people at the gates during an emergency weather situation.

Airmen from the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron worked closely with the 97th Security Forces squadron, as well as the contractors with the company Survive-a-Storm to ensure a smooth construction process and that user needs were met.

The new shelters are 8-by-10 feet in size, and are equipped to shelter 14 people per Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations.

Previously, security forces members posted at the gates had to seek shelter in the guard shacks they work in during a storm.

“If you’ve been out to the gates, you know they don’t really have anywhere to go in case of an emergency, such as a tornado,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brooke Byerley, the lead draftsman for the project. “If a tornado did happen to come through, everyone at the gates would be in danger. Now with this project, everyone will be able to filter to nearby safe places in the event of an emergency.”

These new arrangements make it so that security forces members and individuals waiting to enter base, can seek appropriate, FEMA approved shelter in the event of a storm.

“What I’m most excited about is that the shelters are FEMA approved,” said Kelsey Smith, who is the project manager. “That means they can withstand an F-5 Tornado, which is the worst a tornado can be classified as.”

Smith said that finding contractors who could meet FEMA regulations was a challenge, and that several other setbacks pushed this project’s start date right to the deadline for the fiscal year, despite initial plans, which began back in July.

“Normally security forces members protect us, and for once, we are able to protect them,” said Smith.