“They were built according to the best standards of that time,” Wolfe said. “We've learned a lot about weather since then.”
Safe rooms were built in new schools constructed through MAPS for Kids, and nearly $2 million of the cost was reimbursed through FEMA, said Eric Wenger, MAPS Trust program manager. Wheeler Elementary School also was retrofitted with a safe room. As part of MAPS for Kids renovations, architects have reviewed buildings and come up with safe spaces for severe weather, Wenger said.
In the Mulhall-Orlando school district, school officials open the elementary school safe room — also funded by FEMA — to the public during severe weather, said Mat Luse, superintendent. The safe room is used as a band and music room during school hours. The elementary school was destroyed in the storms that wiped out much of the town.
Residents passed a bond issue Feb. 10 to build another safe room at the high school in Orlando, Luse said.