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UWRF plans to build storm shelters on campus lab farms

February 10, 2011

The campus lab farms currently lack adequate shelter from dangerous storms, but in a couple of months, two tornado storm shelters will be built at the lab farms.

The Laboratory Farms Director Bill Connolly, said he has worried about the lack of storm shelters for a number of years.

At times there can be a lot of people at the farms, whether it be students, farmers or people attending colt sales or horse shows.

Connolly said it is a nice feeling to know that the farms will have shelter and thanks Special Assistant to the Chancellor Blake Fry for writing the grant and following through on the project.

UW-River Falls operates two laboratory farms that serve as educational tools that offer hands-on learning for several classes within the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES).

Lab Farm One is located just south of campus off of Wasson Lane and Farm Two is 2.5 miles northwest of River Falls on county Road MM.
It was a long process to finally be at the stage of building the two storm shelters, said Fry.

Fry, who is also the emergency manager on campus, spearheaded the project.

In 2007, UWRF was the first college in the state of Wisconsin to receive a planning grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA.
The $25,000 grant is part of a program called Pre-Disaster Mitigation.

This program helps identify what can be done to help reduce the loss of life and property from a natural disaster.

The grant paid for the cost of hiring an outside consultant who looked at all the different hazards that could affect the UWRF campus.

Based on the problems that were identified in the plan, the consultant recommended things the campus should do to help mitigate any lose of life or property from those types for natural disasters.

Once the plan was approved by FEMA, UWRF became eligible to apply for the projects that are in the plan, said Fry.

The main project that UWRF sought external funding for was the storm shelters because, “there is a risk if a storm comes through and students are out at one of the lab farms,” Fry said.

“There is no place for them to go right now.”

UWRF applied to the federal government to get funding for the shelters.

After an extensive cost benefit program that considers all the different projects across the country, the federal government agreed to fund the $75,000 project, making UWRF the first college in the state to receive the project grant.

An architect is currently working on the plans of the 400-square-foot buildings.

They will be constructed of concrete and steel and built to withstand a projectile coming at 300 miles per hour.

The shelters will be able to hold around 50 people and will have restrooms, emergency lighting and weather radios.

The shelters will be maintained by facilities management, risk management and campus policy.

Construction should begin in April.