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WATSON - The gymnasium at the old Live Oak High School campus in the Watson area will be renovated and upgraded into a Red Cross worthy storm shelter.

The work, with an estimated cost of $1.9 million, will be funded 75 percent by FEMA with the rest coming from the Livingston Parish school system. Right now work is underway to turn the old high school campus into a new junior high. Some residents say a new storm shelter would be great for Watson.

"I'm happy because we need one in the community, because the community is so large. I think it's great that we're getting one," said Freddie London. "Every time something major happens I think people will come here, because we have a lot of trailer homes where people don't feel comfortable in."

School leaders say the gym needed upgrades anyway, so it's a win-win for the school system and the community.

"The FEMA grant is adding an air conditioner. It's going through all the insulation. A new roof will be put on. All the windows will be replaced. The inside and the floor will be redone," said Livingston Schools Assistant Superintendent Joe Murphy. "It's supposed to be the most hardened, secure shelter in Livingston Parish and will provide the protection even in the greatest natural disasters."

Live Oak Junior High could open as early as August. If the school's campus is not ready for next school year, the open date will be pushed back to the following year.

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