Tornado Season: Are Kids Safe at School?

5-13-05 – Oklahoma educators are working on plans to keep kids safe at school; especially when severe weather hits. FEMA awarded Colbert ISD $400,000 in grant money to build an underground safe room.

The schools chose a design, approved by FEMA, because it is underground and can provide maximum protection.

Builders say above-ground safe rooms are not as effective because even a reinforced concrete structure can not offer a guarantee of safety. According to builders, debris can still penetrate even the strongest structures.

“Three hundred mile an hour wind is a force five tornado. If you're above ground, I don't care how you anchor it or what you do, it's gonna twist it loose at the foundation,” said Doug Eastwood of the company, Storm E-Scapes.

Construction is underway in Colbert and the massive storm shelter is slated for completion next fall. Colbert’s safe room will be big enough for 800 students and faculty.

Across southeast Oklahoma, other schools are constructing safe rooms. The Atoka School District is holding a grand opening for their shelter Friday afternoon when students practice a tornado drill.