Storm Shelter open house August 5

The storm shelter at Griffin Park is 2,400 square feet. It can protect up to 400 people. It can withstand 200 mile per hour winds ... or being rented for a private party.

The city of Pierre will host an open house at its new Griffin Park Storm Shelter on Wednesday, Aug. 5.

The open house is from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There are activities for kids, including tornado making, building a barometer with staff from the South Dakota Discovery Center, and meeting South Dakota Office of Emergency Management mascot Tommy the Turtle.

“We want to give people the opportunity to get familiar with the shelter and provide kids with some storm safety activities,” said Tom Farnsworth, director city parks and recreation. “I encourage anyone who’s interested to come check it out.”

The shelter is the city’s first fully protected shelter in the park system. It is at 703 S. Washington Avenue near the tennis courts in Griffin Park. The 2,400 square foot structure is large enough to protect up to 400 people, and it is built to withstand 200 mile per hour winds.

“The shelter has been put into use a handful of times already since it opened in May,” said Farnsworth. “When we have severe weather, it is unlocked remotely to allow access to shelter space.”

The $800,000 project was made possible by grants from the South Dakota Office of Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and funding from the city of Pierre.

When not being used as a storm shelter, the facility can be rented for private gatherings.

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