Montgomery County Officials, City of Conroe Officials, congressmen and state representatives gathered at Covenant Christian School, where a hurricane safe room/gym is being built to house first responders and emergency officials.
A press event was held at the school on Jan. 17.
The hurricane safe room/gym was made possible by a grant from FEMA.
Jace Houston, Covenant Christian School parent, said most of the time it will serve as a gym, but anytime there’s a major emergency event, it will become a shelter to house first responders and emergency officials, so they can ride out the storm and then be prepared to work as soon as the storm passes.
“October of 2018 is when the idea came to us, and it was a process of 15 to 16 months of paperwork,” Covenant Christian School Head Administrator Dr. Glenn Slater said.
Slater said they expect the hurricane safe room, which will be a 20,000 square feet dome, to be complete and functional by the summer of 2021.
“We’ve told our sophomore students that they’re going to play basketball in there. Our juniors are going to have to play in here (current gym) one more year.”
Slater said it’s very exciting that the school can help out first responders and emergency officials.
“That was bigger than anything to us. We were thrilled about a gym, but when we thought, can we really do this for the community, and it just fits with who we are. It’s who we are as a school. We want to be a light to this community, and we want to help out, that’s just part of being a Christian school.”
Slater said the total cost of the project is around $4-million dollars, and the FEMA grant awarded to the school is for around $3-million dollars.
“The architect, who has done 70 of these projects, told us we could probably expect, when it’s all said and done, to exceed that. He said when you do a FEMA application, all you can do is tell them the numbers you know right then, knowing in two years, it’s probably not going to be that same price.” He (the architect) also said don’t worry, because FEMA is aware of that, and they’ve always given the additional funds needed. He projects closer to $5-million when it’s finally done.”
City of Conroe Mayor Pro Tem Duke Coon, a Covenant Christian School parent, was at the press event and thanked FEMA, the Texas Department of Emergency Management and the School.
“I also want to take a moment to recognize some of our city staff. As you can imagine, the city had a hand in this,” said Coon. Dr. Slater came to me months ago, and asked for us to start writing letters of support, some critical letters of support.”
Conroe Fire Chief Ken Kreger told the school administrators, staff and students they’ll have the honor and privilege to be able to help hundreds of first responders who come to this facility to be able to seek shelter.
“You’re going to have the honor and privilege to adopt this for our first responders who are going to come from all over Texas as well as across the United States. They are going to come to Conroe and the Montgomery County area to be able to help us with any type of disaster like a hurricane coming in,” said Kreger. The state will pre-stage these first responders in this area. These people will come here in this area and will house it right next door to your campus, so it’s a great opportunity for your community to be able to show them how Conroe and Montgomery County appreciates what it is they do.”
Jason Millsaps, Chief of Staff for Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, said there are so many first responders in the County and throughout the region who will call this place home in a disaster, and it’s fantastic.
“I guess it was last week when Judge Keough and I received a call, and it was the most exciting call we received in a long time, that we (were told) this project had been awarded, said Millsaps. As Judge Keough is ahead of the Emergency Management and Homeland Security for the County, with Darren Hess’ leadership working for the department, they see how this will benefit the citizens of Montgomery County and our neighbors in the region to have a monolithic dome here at Covenant Christian School.”
Congressman Kevin Brady told the audience this project was truly a group effort.
“Everyone came together, but we knew at the heart that this federal grant would play a huge role in protecting our first responders here in the Conroe community and Montgomery County, said Brady. As everyone knows, this community has seen its fair share of devastation, in the wakes of hurricanes and floods. We have to do all that we can, not just to prevent those floods, but in the midst of the devastation and disaster, to take care of our first responders, who are with us through it all, and afterwards as well.”