The Norman Transcript

Local news

June 21, 2013

Schools think outside the FEMA-funded box when building tornado shelters

NORMAN — For the past 23 years, Edmond Public Schools has added tornado shelters to every new school building project. None of those shelters have been built with Federal Emergency Management Agency dollars.

FEMA funding is great when it’s available, but some FEMA requirements for federally funded shelters add to the cost without contributing to structural safety, school officials and architects said.

“The movement to build safe rooms in Edmond schools began in 1990,” said Dr. David Goin, Edmond Schools superintendent.

Goin served as principal of McKinley Elementary in Norman before moving to Edmond. However, he didn’t start out at Norman.

“I was principal at Plaza Towers (elementary in Moore) between 1982 through 1986,” Goin said.

Edmond has 94 designed storm shelters in 10 school facilities, and an additional nine facilities have underground or partially underground areas that serve as tornado shelters.

“We still have our challenges,” Goin said, noting that schools built before 1990 do not have safe rooms.

Edmond, Norman, Owasso and Piedmont are among Oklahoma schools that have built tornado safe rooms without FEMA funding. There are actually more Oklahoma schools with safe rooms than the governor, the state emergency manager or many people might think.

“When you’re building it into original construction, it does add to the cost,” Goin said. “But it has been something we have viewed as affordable and important.”

Architect Sean Willis with The Stacy Group was part of the team that worked on several Edmond projects as well as Reagan Elementary, 1601 24th Ave. SE in Norman. The Stacy Group also designed safe rooms in Owasso and Piedmont.

“FEMA guidelines are very strict and there are a bunch of extra guidelines you have to get through to get FEMA,” Willis said.

To receive FEMA dollars, plans must include added costs that don’t increase structural safety such as battery backup for lighting and HVAC, Willis said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • N7 Sooners come together to serve Native American youth

    Whitney Wofford has faced some tough competition as a part of the Oklahoma tennis team. However, on Wednesday, Wofford may have taken on her biggest and most rewarding competition yet at the Sooners For N7 event at the Oklahoma football ...

    April 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Oklahoma officials account for $9.4M in disaster spending

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Nearly a year after deadly tornadoes hit central Oklahoma, officials announced that they have spent close to $9.4 million in private donations on relief efforts....

    April 24, 2014

  • Earth Day activities continue this week

    Oklahoma is no stranger to extreme weather, but many say those extremes are even greater than before. Norman resident and biologist Kathy Rand is convinced those climate irregularities are a result of climate change caused by pollution, ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Man arraigned after wife’s death

    A judge on Wednesday denied bond for a 37-year-old Norman man formally charged with stabbing his wife to death with a kitchen knife early Saturday morning in their southeast Norman apartment. Abid Sandhu, 37, was arraigned before Special ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Moore schools receive $500K

    As Mickey Davis addressed the auditorium, the picture of a bright-eyed, happy 8-year-old on the podium in front of her could not be ignored. Davis’ son, Kyle Davis, was one of seven who lost their lives in the May 2013 tornadoes at Plaza ...

    April 24, 2014

  • School to present ‘Hamlet’

    To be or not to be? That is the question Norman North High School students are answering during their production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” this week....

    April 24, 2014

  • Historic house celebrates centennial

    When Fredrick Holmberg arrived in Norman more than 100 years ago, he tucked his violin beneath his arm and headed for the University of Oklahoma campus.  A century later, another violinist, Cindy Zhang, will perform at the home Holmberg ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Dorman wants bipartisan appeal

    Rep. Joe Dorman said he’s proud to be a Democrat running for governor, but he hopes to garner bipartisan support. In a visit Wednesday to the Transcript, Dorman said, if elected, he wants to work across party lines like former Gove. Henry ...

    April 24, 2014

  • ‘Frozen’ to air Friday

    Movies on Main in Blanchard will host a showing of “Frozen” at 8 p.m. Friday. The evening will include hot dogs, chips, drinks, popcorn and free movie merchandise....

    April 24, 2014

  • Safety Town registration begins Saturday

    Saturday marks the beginning of registration for Safety Town classes at Sooner Mall. Safety Town, a 37-year Norman tradition, teaches children, ages 5 and 6, the importance of bicycle, fire and personal safety. Classes are 50 minutes long ...

    April 24, 2014