The Park has been working with Salem Township, Allegan County Emergency Management, The Michigan State Police Hazard Mitigation Team and FEMA for several months in regards to protecting the residents of Sandy Pines in the event of severe weather. Last fall our grant request was approved by FEMA to construct a two story storm shelter. We are fortunate to have the support of the Township, Emergency Management, FEMA and the State to have the opportunity to provide our residents protection and safety.
Recreational Vehicles fail terribly in tornadic and high wind weather events. The reality is Sandy Pines does not have adequate shelter space to shelter our residents and employees. We have had some near misses with tornados. Allegan County was ranked 7th (2012) in the state as a county to have the most tornados. People say that a tornado will never happen at Sandy Pines. The fact is that tornados are very unpredictable and undeterminable as to where they will occur. The risk is too great to deny the potential harm that could occur to people within this community. A direct tornadic event at Sandy Pines could have devastating results.
The Sandy Pines Storm Committee has worked with the architect to design a multi-purpose two story storm shelter. The storm Shelter will be built on the north shore of the lake in phase 4. Upon completion the two story Storm Shelter will be engineered to P-361 FEMA and ICC 500 storm shelter construction standards. A concern that the appearance has been voiced of this being a “box” with a lack of appealing appearance. The Shelter Committee has worked hard to design the building with a multi-purpose function as a shelter with good aesthetics.
The FEMA grant will pay seventy-five percent of costs associated with hardening. Sandy Pines would be responsible for 25% of the hardening costs. Costs not associated with hardening is the responsibility of Sandy Pines.
Salem Township is a rural community with limited resources. Salem Township has established mutual aid with neighboring Fire, EMS and tribal entities. Salem Township and Sandy Pines works with Allegan County Emergency Management to prepare for disasters such as weather and flooding. This is an extension of planning for this community to mitigate potential weather related hazards to reduce the potential of injury and loss of life. Salem Township, Allegan County is committed to the safety and well-being of our residents and visitors. This is demonstrated by the many grants that have been requested in both Safer Grants and Mitigation Grants. Salem Township and Sandy Pines would not be able to achieve what we feel is needed in protecting our residents and visitors without the opportunity of this FEMA grant funding.
This mitigation proposal is intended to provide safe shelter from severe high windstorms and tornadoes for residents within Sandy Pines campground. It has been a concern for decades locally and at the Allegan County Emergency Management level for sheltering the residents in this dense populated area for severe weather events. Insufficient shelter space exists for the population to shelter and this is the concern. Lack of adequate shelter space results in persons sheltering in RV camping units resulting in persons at high risk of injury or death.
If an event occurred resources in Western Michigan could be overwhelmed trying to care for the injured. Emergency resources are limited. Potential for a loss of life is high when adequate space for shelter is not available for residents to take shelter. This mitigation plan is an effort to reduce the potential risk of injury and loss of life by building FEMA 361 compliant structure for residents to shelter protecting residents, visitors and staff.
The mitigation area is in the Zone IV region and is indicated as a high risk area based on NOAA Storm Prediction Center Statistics and as referenced in the FEMA Wind Zones of the United States. The Storm Shelter will provide residents a high confidence of safety and security for their families. The structure proposed is the Phase 4 Storm shelter with a capacity to shelter 1,143 persons including six wheelchair occupants. The high confidence and safety protection of a FEMA P-361 engineered building will provide a safe haven with an adequate capacity to shelter residents within a five minute walk or drive to the facility.
Present 45 year old bathrooms in phase 4 are inadequate to shelter the population based on 5 Sq.ft/person and 1 wheelchair/200 occupants. Based on FEMA standards two-thirds of the people in the phase 4 area have no place to seek shelter other than Recreational vehicles. The current convenience centers were not built to serve as storm shelters but are thought to provide more protection than a camping trailer. In past weather events the bathroom facilities have not been capable of sheltering the population, are crowded and people shelter in camping units rather than go to a crowded facility that is not capable of sheltering the population. Sheltering in camping units places person’s lives in jeopardy and creates a potential for high risk of injury and death.
Salem Township and Sandy Pines has put in place several means to alert persons of severe weather and upon activation persons are advised to seek shelter. People however have to have shelters capable of handling the population to shelter. The construction of this storm shelter will provides the needed capacity of a safe shelter with a high degree of safety. People have indicated that they shelter in RV’s because of limited space and overcrowding in current facilities. Many of our residents do not live locally and do not have the opportunity to go home and shelter. Sheltering in place in a RV places people at high risk of injury or loss of life. Sheltering in a facility that has been designed to withstand severe weather events provided confidence in providing safety to families seeking shelter.