(Highlandville, Mo.--03/08/2018) Spring is just around the corner and so is severe weather season.
That's why during severe weather awareness week FOX5 is highlighting Highlandville as they are taking the initiative to keep their community safe with their newest FEMA shelter.
It's been almost seven years since an EF-5 tornado whipped through the community of Joplin, ending the lives of more than a hundred of people.
"You never think it’s going to happen to you," explains Highlandville Elementary School Nurse, Alicia Freeman.
Alicia lived in Joplin during that time and she can still recall the fear and worry on that day the tornado hit as she assisted the days after.
"After seeing that amount of devastation first hand, we really never take a single tornado watch or warning lightly and we really have a better understanding of always having a plan in place."
Parents in Highlandville like Alicia no longer have to worry about their children’s safety if a tornado were to hit their town.
"Our students come here to educated but they also come here expected to be safe and secure and this FEMA shelter is such a great resource provide that Security."
The reason: a brand new library at the Highlandville Elementary that doubles as a FEMA approved tornado safe room
Jennifer Wheeler Lofton, Principal, Highlandville Elementary, tells FOX5," The last thing any school administrator, teacher, parent, wants is the loss of life ever so property can be replaced life can’t.
The shelter is now providing an extra sense of security for the community as the new structure holds more than 600 people. Administrators say it can withstand winds up to 250 mile an hour.
"I think a lot of people are frightened by storms and so the fact that they know they have somewhere safe to go that’s going to be open and readily available for them to access has been great."
The federal emergency management agency picks up 75% of the tab if school districts like Highlandville or other local governments successfully apply for funding.
"Luckily we had the funds available, we we’re able to jump on that without doing a bond issue, without going to our voters to pass a bond issue."