The Friends of Crawford State Park group breaks ground on $300,000 FEMA storm shelter

It's the first ever in any Kansas State Park
The Friends of Crawford State Park group breaks ground on $300,000 FEMA storm shelter

Aggie Keesling is known to those around her as the Matriarch of Lake Crawford State Park. She is an avid camper but knows that Mother Nature can be dangerous.

“If there’s a bad storm you have no place to go and sitting up on wheels, you’re not very safe, so I thought we really, really need a shelter.”

For the past 6 years, Keesling has had a dream of and has been pushing for a FEMA approved storm shelter, knowing it could save countless lives.

“Seeing that it’s going to be a reality, I’ve been waiting on this for so long and to see that we’re really going to have it built and I’m excited for the people to see it after we get it all done.”

She stared the fundraising efforts herself by selling ice cream to campers at Crawford State Park.

“We’d go across the dam, and we had our horn going you know playing music, so they would know we were coming and little kids would be lined right at their trailers, each one of them and that’s how we had to sell the ice cream.”

With the help of her friends, donations, and grants, the ‘Friends of Crawford State Park’ group was able to raise 25% of the $300,000 structure. The rest was covered with a hazard mitigation grant from FEMA.

“It started off it was just going to be 2 or 3 that hold 20 people, but it kind of morphed into a larger facility, ours will hold 300 people” added President of the Friends of Crawford State Park group, Joe Bournonville.

The group has now broken ground on the site for the shelter and are calling it “Aggies Dream.” It will be the first ever FEMA storm shelter in any Kansas State Park.

“It’s a multi-use facility, it’s an EF-5 certified FEMA approved storm shelter that’ll be for the campers and visitors to the Farlington State lake” added Bournonville.

The ‘Aggies dream’ shelter is expected to be complete by April, before the next storm season begins.

“Went from a dream into a reality just because of the goodness of people” said Bournonville.

For Aggie, she says she will be checking on the sites progress regularly.

“It’s one of my happiest days because I just can’t wait.”

The group expects official construction to begin within the next thirty days.

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