SMITHVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - Construction is in full swing at the new Smithville School, with ongoing work on a number of projects that all stem from the deadly EF-5 tornado that swept through the town in April 2011.
One of those projects will be a first for not only Smithville, but the entire state of Mississippi.
To build such a structure it takes a company that has experience in building several hundred domes in every state but Alaska and in 20 foreign countries.
With fabric that is air-inflated being held up by fans, there are several steps before this project is completed.
"We put the insulation on the inside and then we tie a rebar grid on the inside of that," adds Randy South, president of South Industries. "It will look like a big bird cage for a little while, and then we spray concrete -- which is called shotcrete -- on the inside. We embed that rebar and when the rebar is all embedded, we let the concrete cure for a little while, turn the fans off and you got a concrete building."
Once the dome is fully outfitted and constructed, it will meet the FEMA 361 standards, which means it could withstand another tornado.
"The wind has a hard time getting a hold of them in the first place because of the shape," adds South. "The other thing, the dynamics of the compound curve of the dome and the fact that the concrete is about three times harder than regular concrete [make them] extremely strong buildings."
With the help of FEMA, insurance and a grant issued through the Mississippi Development Authority the cost of the project is less for both the Monroe County School District and taxpayers.
"The cost of the dome is approximately a third of the cost of doing conventional-type construction," adds Clay Evans, project manager for Century Construction. "The speed that [the process] allows us during the construction phase [is also a plus] but it is FEMA Approved, FEMA rated and will survive an F5 tornado."
In the event that happens, the dome can hold a little more than 800 people as a storm shelter.