The Edmond Sun

State News

May 24, 2013

Weather expert: Schools need shelters

NORMAN — Ninety-four percent of Oklahoma schools do not have tornado shelters, according to Gov. Mary Fallin, even though at least one weather expert says they should be standard.

With two Moore schools destroyed in Monday’s EF-5 tornado — and seven school children dead — the need for safe rooms has entered the state and national debate.

At a press conference Thursday, Fallin said 100 Oklahoma schools have tornado safe rooms or shelters, but the state has 1,752 public schools. Nine of those schools are in the Edmond Public School District, but the district will have 25 total school sites as of August.

The governor was asked whether she would support legislation to require tornado shelters in all new school buildings.

“I think it is important for the state to talk about that,” Fallin said, adding that the state should gather information about which schools have shelters and what is needed.

Meteorologist Mike Smith, senior vice president of AccuWeather, said all schools need places to shelter during severe storms.

“Whether you call it a safe room, a storm shelter or an area with reinforced construction, schools should have a place for teachers, students and staff to congregate during a tornado or high-wind event,” Smith said.

On Thursday, Rep. Mark McBride announced that Apache Corporation has donated $500,000 to pay for safe rooms for schools. The money is designated for shelters at Moore schools.

McBride and other legislators who are forming a nonprofit to handle the funds hope the money will seed a bigger fund to build shelters in schools throughout the state.

Reps. Jon Echols and Richard Morrissette are helping organize the fund.

Moore teacher Kaye Davis said private funding will be the most efficient way to fund safe rooms in her district. She said she does not support state mandates that require districts to build safe rooms. Too often, she said, mandates go unfunded.

“In the situation where a state mandate exists, if the funding is not available, it could slow down the construction of a badly needed school,” she said. “Many of our schools are overcrowded now.”

Moore voters recently agreed to a $126.4 million bond issue to build a new middle school and two elementary schools. It’s unclear if those schools have been designed or if plans include safe rooms.

“We want all schools to have safe rooms, yes,” said Davis, who teaches special education at Apple Creek Elementary. “But in all districts, it’s not going to be possible unless money comes from some outside source.”

Smith, a meteorologist, said students should be in a reinforced area when severe storms are approaching.

Smith said Wichita, Kan., where AccuWeather is based, is a leader in building shelters in schools.

The city passed a $45 million bond in 2008 to put shelters in 60 schools, he said. This includes retrofitting existing schools as well as new construction.

“Some are completed,” he said. “Some are still under way.”

The city’s school district was the first in the country to build a FEMA-approved storm shelter in a school, the Wichita Eagle reported. In addition to bond money, the district has used grants from FEMA to fortify its schools.

Joy Hampton

366-3539

jhampton@normantranscript.com

 

1
Text Only
State News
  • GooGooDolls.jpg Coming in August: The Goo Goo Dolls

    Tickets for the Aug. 5 concert, which are priced at $45.50 and $59.50, go on sale 10 a.m. Friday, April 25.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War the theme at Heritage Center Family Saturday

    The event will be 1-3 p.m. Saturday and is free with admission to the museum.

    April 16, 2014

  • MS_injection well.jpg Agency clarifies earthquake-related misinformation

    A state agency says misinformation related to the debate about the cause of more earthquakes across Central Oklahoma includes oil well types, well numbers and injection pressure.
    The Prague sequence of 2011 along the Wilzetta Fault zone included a significant foreshock, a main shock of magnitude 5.7 and numerous aftershocks. It has been suggested that this sequence represents tremors triggered by fluid injection.
    More recently, earthquakes have been recorded in the vicinity of Jones, Arcadia Lake, Edmond, Guthrie, Langston and Crescent. Regulators and scientists are working together to better understand what’s causing all the shaking.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff seeks items for agency history project

    If you have historic pictures or artifacts related to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the agency is asking the public to share them.
    “The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is working on a history project. If you, your family, friends or acquaintances have any old photos or artifacts related to the OCSO we would love to have them or a digital copy,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel.

    April 16, 2014

  • History_Tour_5_BH.jpg History tours begin May 17

    Downtown Enid will be the scene of Chisholm Trail Coalition Walking Tours

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • New study counters pot legalization argument

    A new study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences, a researcher says.
    Researchers say the findings suggest recreational marijuana use may lead to previously unidentified brain changes and highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain.

    April 15, 2014

  • brisket2.jpg Food Network show visits Guthrie for ’89er Days

    Guthrie’s annual ’89er Days Celebration provides a variety of activities for people to enjoy including a carnival, rodeo, parade and lots of food vendors.
    This year, visitors at the 84th annual event, which runs Tuesday through Saturday, will notice an added bonus when a film crew from the new television series “Carnival Eats” will be in town filming for its inaugural episode.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • OCSP-Family and Treasurer-04-15-2014.jpg Treasurer Miller awards ‘Tax Day Baby’ with college savings plan

    April 15 is commonly known as the day many will spend in line at the post office or finishing final preparations for tax returns. This year, one Oklahoma family spent April 15, tax day, welcoming their new son, born at 2:07 a.m. and was recognized as the first Tax Day Baby at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. 
    As the first Tax Day Baby, State Treasurer Ken Miller, R-Edmond, awarded, Quan Ta, with an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan worth $1,529. Miller, who serves as board chairman for the OCSP, reminds parents and grandparents that any contribution made to an OCSP account by April 15 qualified for a 2013 Oklahoma income tax deduction.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Candidate filing period ends

    From the U.S. Congress to the Oklahoma House, several incumbents are hoping to hold onto their jobs in the 2014 elections.

    April 15, 2014

  • SPICER.jpg 5 suspects face charges in Edmond home assault

    A resident was silent while he was kicked repeatedly in his ribs and head during last week’s assault in an Edmond home, court records show.
    Jenny Monroe, spokeswoman for the Edmond Police Department, said five individuals arrested in recent days appear to be the extent of the suspects in the incident. Monroe said the victim, 64, is back at home after he was transported to a metro hospital.
    The five suspects according to the Edmond Police Department and Oklahoma County records are:

    April 14, 2014 5 Photos