Safe School 101 in Oklahoma helps schools find places to take shelter in school buildings

The tragedy in Moore serves as a reminder of the need for school storm shelters, but the expense makes that difficult.

May 20, 2013 an EF-5 devastated the community south of the state capitol.

SPECIAL SECTION: Stories, photos, videos and interactives about what happened in Moore

Just as residents of Moore were healing, another EF-5 hit 11 days later, in El Reno.

We came home to a flattened house. Nothing," said Melissa Little, who continues to live in the El Reno area.

"Just went back the next day and started trying to clean up and salvage," she said.

Then another blow, Melissa's second home was also hit, her daycare. It's a place Melissa considers family.

The child care facility is part of the El Reno School District.

"We had large basketball, volleyball size hail come through one of our walls," said Little. The good news, "We closed for the summer. So we did not have any children here."

Fortunately no one was hurt.

Still, after experiencing two hits from the same storm, Melissa knows the impact a twister can have all too well.

"We need all the protection we can get because it's Oklahoma," she said.

That's just what the El Reno School District is working to do thanks to a program called Safe School 101 .

The program brings engineers, architects  and emergency experts together to go through schools to see where the safest places are for kids to take shelter.

Sometimes the program helps district leaders find a place in the school, administrators hadn't thought about.

"It gave us a different perspective," said Rodger Roblyer, the School Safety Director in El Reno Public Schools.

He toured district buildings with experts.

"And really look at, okay if we were to have a 250 mile an hour wind event what would happen to this building, what would happen to the students in this building?" asked Roblyer.

Eventually the schools in our area will be able to take part in the safe schools program too.

Officials with El Reno Public Schools say they plan to use bond money and FEMA dollars to build shelters.

 

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