FEMA approves grant for storm shelters in Pelham

City Council must soon decide whether to approve matching funds

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

PELHAM — After 14 months, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved a grant to help Pelham purchase five storm shelters to place around the city, but there’s a catch.

Originally, the $650,000 grant, which Pelham officials filed with FEMA in December 2011, called for FEMA to contribute 75 percent, or $487,500, and the city of Pelham to contribute $162,500, the remaining 25 percent.

    If the Pelham City Council decides to approve a grant for new storm shelters, the new shelters will look like those pictured. However, Pelham's shelters would contain only two units instead of five. (Contributed photo)

If the Pelham City Council decides to approve a grant for new storm shelters, the new shelters will look like those pictured. However, Pelham’s shelters would contain only two units instead of five. (Contributed photo)

During the April 1 Pelham City Council work session, Finance Director Tom Seale said the grant that FEMA actually approved is for $802,510, but FEMA will only contribute an additional $2,000.

Under the terms of the approved grant, FEMA would contribute $489,531, or 61 percent, while Pelham’s contribution would increase to $312,979, or 39 percent.

Seale said the grant money increased to cover storm shelter bathrooms, plumbing, electrics, sewer and water taps, water meters, foundations, labor and other costs.

He said the council would need to consider whether they want to approve the grant with its increased costs to the city, and the council must take up the question within the next month to fit with FEMA’s timeframe.

Seale said two of the five storm shelters would be placed at Pelham City Park. The other three would be placed at the Pelham Senior Center, Fungo Holler Park and the Pelham Civic Complex.

The storm shelters can hold about 165 people apiece and can withstand winds of up to 250 mph, Seale said.