(WMC-TV) - A tornado safe room on the rise in a Mid-South community will eventually become a safe haven for more than 1,000 people.
The space used to escape potentially deadly storms will be the first in Shelby County for the firm behind it, but it will likely not be the last.
Architects said the safe rooms' walls will be able to withstand and EF-5 tornado with winds up to 250 miles per hour.
"And [it can withstand] the impact of a 2 by 4 traveling about a hundred miles per hour. So, it's definitely stout," said architect Howard Glatstein.
The first such safe room in Shelby County, designed by the firm Fisher & Arnold, is going up next to Arlington Elementary School.
Prep work is underway. Once completed, up to 1,300 people will be able to seek shelter inside.
"The weight of the building is what's used to keep the tornado from lifting the building up off the ground ... It's a large, heavy structure," said Glatstein.
The firm helped secure federal and state grants for the project in Arlington, as well as other West Tennessee cities. Discussions with Memphis and Shelby County are also underway.
"Anything to protect the population is important," said Arlington resident Mary Winter.
She said she would consider walking to the new safe room with enough warning.
When not protecting lives during a storm, safe rooms can serve as community centers or classrooms.
The safe room in Arlington will cost about $1.4 million dollars with 75 percent of the cost coming from FEMA.
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