The Norman Transcript

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October 10, 2013

Program provides assistance, home to area teens in need

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Bridges staff is committed to building a tornado safe room.

“For Bridges students, many of whom are being treated for PTSD due to past abuse and neglect, a shelter is a critical need,” Krittenbrink said. “Because they are anxious anyway, the possibility of a tornado is scarier than it might be to the average teen.”

Sidney said while a few teens showed fearless bravado during the spring storms, many were stressed out by the experience.

“Everyone seemed pretty nervous, you know, like, jittery, watching the news,” Sidney said.

Bridges staff implements a procedure for severe weather, but having a tornado shelter would be ideal.

“Our current storm plan, if there is a warning at night when day staff isn’t available, is for the two resident advisors to open the student center and let the kids stay there,” Krittenbrink said. “The group shelters in the two bathrooms on the inside walls of the facility.

“If the kids are caught in their apartments, we tell them to go in the bathtub and pile mattresses and pillows on top of them. In light of recent storms, this solution is woefully inadequate. In fact, because they were so scared, a resident advisor brought a group of students to the basement in my house one night last spring.”

Funding to pay for the proposed safe room has been hard to find, so Bridges is reaching out to private donors.

“In-ground shelters are much cheaper than safe rooms,” Krittenbrink said. “I could get one that would accommodate up to 15 people installed in the student center garage for around $7,000.

“However, when I consider the problems that could arise because of the very tight space and students with claustrophobia and look at the recent research ... I feel that an above-ground safe room is the way to go.

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