By Steve Deyarmond

The North Shore storm shelter is near completion. The new building is a result of Local Government, County Emergency Management, State and Federal Government, the shelter committee members and The Sandy Pines Board working together to design and complete this project. One of the greatest benefits is procurement of a grant that paid for 75% of the hardening of the structure.

Prior to this project concerns of lack of space to shelter, confidence in the present 45-yearold structures and the need for shelters with a high confidence of safety. Some indicated that they would shelter in their trailer rather than go to overcrowded convenience centers. Camping units provide little protection from high winds and projectiles. The capacity of convenience centers (in Phase 4) based on FEMA’s requirements permitted only 374 persons to shelter. Although the convenience centers did provide more protection than a camping unit, the confidence of protection and safety at convenience centers is questionable. Some people say that tornados never happen here. Never is a long time. In the past few years, tornados have been within a couple of miles of Sandy Pines. The risk of injury or survival in a camping unit is great.

The building of this facility is a proactive approach to protect you, your family, and your guests. The conversation with local officials and Allegan County Emergency started years ago. The writing of the grant for this facility was in process two to three years before awarded. Many staff, committee, local official hours were involved in acquiring and managing the grant. Although the building will soon be open, staff will still be working on government requirements, submittals, and reviews.

The North Shore Center is engineered to FEMA P361 standards, meaning that you can be assured with high confidence that you and your family are safe in this facility during severe weather. This is not the first shelter built, as two previous shelters were built in Phase 3 as convenience centers, that are designed as FEMA P361 dual purpose shelter facilities.

The North Shore Center is intended for persons within a 5-minute walking distance or one-half mile drive. Parking is available in front of, east of and west of the facility. Handicapped parking is available in front of and on the west side of the facility to gain access to the 2nd floor, using the ramp.

This facility has a generator backup, and based on FEMA standards of one person per 5 sq. Feet, has a FEMA occupancy rating of 1,172 persons.

The North Shore Center is a dual-purpose facility. The building has a library, Board Room and four lower-level meeting rooms. The Second Floor has a warming kitchen and open area for special events.

This is the third building in which Sandy Pines, and Salem Township have worked with FCC to construct a FEMA P361 storm shelter. Construction of these facilities have many requirements to provide a high confidence of safety. Our thanks to FCC for their ability and attention to detail to construct this facility for our community.

Few FEMA storm shelters have been built in the State of Michigan in the past 20 years. Acquiring a grant for nearly 3 million, in a competition with large urban communities is a feat in itself. In the end because of many people, we have a new facility, and our Park has become safer.

Volunteers are needed to serve as safety team members to assist during severe weather watches and events at this new facility. If you are interested, please send an email to Your help is greatly appreciated.

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