It’s hard to figure out just which part of the new Roseland storm shelter is most incredible, the timing of its completion or how it got built.

It’s hard to figure out just which part of the new Roseland storm shelter is most incredible, the timing of its completion or how it got built.

But either way, the small town of Roseland now has something many other cities don’t — a multifunction storm shelter that is fully paid.

Roseland, located west of Scammon and east of Carona and West Mineral in Cherokee County, recently completed a project to build a new storm shelter/city hall/community center with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The shelter, built to FEMA regulations, can fit well more than 150 people.

Mary (Carpino) Pomatto, one of the city’s five-member city council, said the project was completed on May 19, and saw almost immediate use, as three days later, on May 22, the storm shelter was open the night that tornadoes made their way to Joplin. The very next night, May 23, the shelter was also in use, as rotation was detected close to the shelter’s location, according to Pomatto.

“It’s just a wonderful thing,” Pomatto said. “No one can figure out just how we got this thing done.”

According to Pomatto, it took a lot of effort from some unlikely sources. She said the idea came up after a series of bad storms. Pomatto said she and Roseland Mayor Hazel Cresson would visit the Cherokee County Director of Emergency Management, Jason Allison, at least every year to see if there was funding. Finally, in 2010, he found potential support from FEMA.

“We knew there was a need for it. The council is myself and four men. The mayor, she’s 86 years old,” Pomatto said. “She and I would go to the courthouse, and do all this talking. I can plan things, but Hazel can get things done. We’d go to the courthouse every Monday to do all the things that need to be done.”

Pomatto actually donated the land to the city that houses the storm shelter. She said that Tony Carpino, who passed away in November, would check every day on the progress of the storm shelter grant.

The city has also taken care of all the funding of the facility. The building cost close to $300,000, and the city had to pay close to $100,000 of that, even after the FEMA grant, which was a 75/25 matching grant.

Pomatto said the city has already paid its portion out of city funds, saying that the city has not asked for “anything we really don’t need. Roseland has never really asked for anything.” She said an open house is planned in the next few weeks for the building, and suggested other towns look into a similar project.

“Sometimes I just sit here, and I think, ‘How did we ever do it?’” Pomatto said. “If you have a good, cooperative council, and the people go on with what you’re trying to tell them, you can do it.

“I think some of these surrounding towns need to get busy, and do this for their people.

The time is right now. With tornadoes and being in Tornado Alley, it just worked out that we could get it all. All these towns, they all need this. Why not spend some money on something as useful as this?”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.