Federal dollars used for tornado safety room at Troy Buchanan High School

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LINCOLN COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - A federal grant aimed at tornado safety will do double duty for a school district in Lincoln County.

The $1.8 million in FEMA funds will help Troy Buchanan High School to build a tornado safe room that will also serve as a performing arts center.

"We practice monthly drills regarding tornadoes,” said Superintendent Mark Penny. "But we don't really have a safe place to go other than away from windows."

A combination of community fund raising and the district's borrowing will pay for the stage, auditorium seats, audiovisual equipment and lighting, to make the secure room serve a duel use as an auditorium and theater.

Total price tag: $5 million.

The safe room must withstand 250 mile an hour winds generated by an F-5 tornado in order to qualify for the federal grant. Troy Buchanan High has been using an auditorium in town dating from the 1920s.

This will be the school district's first safe room but not its last. A new middle school will also include one paid for entirely by the district.