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School districts across Green Country are improving severe weather safety

Posted at 3:32 PM, Apr 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-30 19:10:29-04

HARTSHORNE, Okla. — In the wake of severe weather season, schools across Green Country are making changes.

The North Ward Elementary shelter opened in September. The superintendent at Hartshorne Public Schools said with FEMA-rated doors and windows, they can now feel peace of mind.

The shelter was made possible through bond funding. Before during a storm, students would be crouching in the hallways. Now they can be reading a book or watching a movie.

"We can talk about it and we can have plans but if you don't have a facility like this you're depending on a situation where maybe we just get lucky, and that's not a good feeling," Jason Lindley said.

At Puterbaugh Middle School in McAlester, they're using grant funding to start installation of four safe rooms in the next year.

"When you see the things that have happened, as in Moore where kids were killed, it just tears your heart out. You never want to see that happen. You never want to see that happen to your kids because even though we have 3,000 here they're still my kids," superintendent Randy Hughes said.

This comes as districts are also increasing security.

"With all the things we're doing for safety with the door monitors and having to scan badges to get in, it just doesn't make sense to overlook something that is huge and could be totally devastating if it ever happened," Hughes said.

Although McAlester hasn't seen a tornado in a while, Hughes said he wants to be prepared for anything.

"It's not pressure from the outside but inward pressure because I don't want to live with that, thinking I could have made a difference, I could have done something. We're doing all we can," he said.

In Hartshorne, the elementary shelter can hold more than 500 people. There's also a public shelter at the high school.

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