Tuesday, June 21, 2011 | 10:06 AM
As the state of Alabama began recovery efforts from the April 2011 storm event which deemed one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in the history of the south, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 4 developed partnerships with organizations within the state to foster the mission – Create a safer Alabama.
Steven Gray, store manager of Lowe’s in Tuscaloosa partnered with Region 4’s Hazard Mitigation Branch during DR-1971-AL.
His store supplied the materials, with the exception of connectors, for the construction of FEMA’s DAWG HAUS (an acronym used by structural engineers to describe a building that can stand up against high-velocity wind. The letters stand for Disaster Avoidance With Good Home-Attenuating Unionization System.)
The connectors, including hurricane straps and brackets, were donated by Simpson Strong Ties.
The DAWG HAUS illustrates ways of locking the different parts of a building together with metal connectors, hurricane clips, sill plate anchoring and gable-end bracing.
FEMA’s DAUG HAUS Project is normally a high school or voc-tech project to show students, going into the construction field, better building techniques. Local building supply stores such as Lowe’s Home Improvement, Home Depot and Simpson Strong Ties have been major contributors (of materials) to this project.
During the time of construction, Alabama schools were closed for the summer. The DAWG HAUS was coordinated by Community Education & Outreach (CEO) Lead, Elizabeth Floyd and constructed by FEMA CEO Specialist Angel Morales along with engineers Donald Leifheit and Matthew Dewar. It was displayed at the 2011 Safer Alabama Summit.
“I think it’s a great thing to participate in something like this. This was a big project for me; however, it was one that I welcomed getting involved in,” said Gray. “To be able to show people what they can do to safe guard lives is just wonderful.”
Gray’s involvement with the project, lead to the idea of a future project. He plans to build a storm shelter using the guidelines and plans outlined in FEMA 320 – “Taking Shelter from the Storm.”
“I live in a small community. It’s ‘heir’ property that belongs to my family,” said Gray. “I am the only one with a slab on grade house. The others live in mobile homes. I told my wife that I plan to build a storm shelter big enough for the entire family of relatives, about 40 people.”
Safety can be greatly enhanced with a free standing safe room or a strengthened area within a larger structure. Safe rooms can provide "near-absolute protection from tornado activity." FEMA 320 provides several interior blueprints that can be incorporated into your home or business. This publication also provides cost estimates.
Additional information on safe rooms can be found on the following websites: www.fema.gov and www.ema.alabama.gov.
A display house will be at the parking lot behind McDonalds at 10:00 a.m., June 23, 2011.