Representatives from the city of Conroe, Montgomery County, the Texas Legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives came together Jan. 17 to celebrate Covenant Christian School, located at 4503 I-45 N., Conroe, which recently was awarded a grant by Federal Emergency Management Agency to construct a first responder’s safe room.
The FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant provides the school with approximately $3 million to construct a concrete dome gymnasium with “near-absolute life safety protection” for first responders and emergency management who cannot evacuate during a hurricane or other natural disasters, according to a press release.
Glenn Slater, head administrator for Covenant Christian School, said the process to approval was incredibly long and expensive, but he is excited to be a resource for the community.
“We were excited about getting a new gymnasium,” Slater said. “But beyond that, we were thrilled about the idea to provide a facility to house up to 607 first responders in the event of an emergency.”
The event was attended by U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands; state Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe; Conroe Mayor Pro Tem Duke Coon; Commissioner for Precinct 1 Mark Meador; Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack; Shaun Miller, assistant chief for the Texas Division of Emergency Management; Jason Millsaps, chief of staff for Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough; Darren Hesst, director of the Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management; Conroe Fire Chief Ken Kreger; and Conroe Chief of Police Jeff Christy.
Slater thanked each representative for writing support letters as the school sought donations and cooperation across the community as well as divine providence, including a surprise check for $20,000 that perfectly covered part of the application process.
“FEMA gave two [grants] in the state of Texas, and we got one of them. We got one of them!” Slater said.
Brady said the project highlights how much cooperation between every level of government was necessary to make the safe room a reality.
“Everyone came together,” Brady said. “But we knew at the heart that this federal grant would play a huge role in protecting our first responders here in the Conroe community in Montgomery County.”
As a community that “has seen its fair share of devastation” from storms such as Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Ike and Tropical Storm Imelda, Brady said Conroe must not only invest in flood prevention and flood mitigation but must also prepare for the storms to come and enable its first responders to succeed.
“They’re the ones who put their lives on the line to rescue us, to save our community,” Brady said. “Today, we can do our part to make sure they’re safe as well.”
Slater said although there is no construction timeline as of yet for the safe room, the school expects to complete the structure in summer 2021. The school must also fundraise approximately $1.5 million in order to add the parts necessary for the building to operate as a gymnasium.
For more information and to donate, go to www.covenantonline.com/safe-room.