The Norman Transcript

Breaking News

News Features

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
News Features
  • DUal-state advance Tough field awaits Southmoore at dual state

    Southmoore’s history at Dual State is a short read. The totality of it is a first-round loss to eventual runner-up Muskogee by one point in last year’s tournament.

    February 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Myths about obesity

    The obesity epidemic is among the most critical health issues facing the United States. Although it has generated a lot of attention and calls for solutions, it also has served up a super-sized portion of myths and misunderstandings....

    December 28, 2013

  • How to tame an out-of-control kid

    Edith, a retired Capitol Hill staffer from Washington, was at the end of her rope last year over the mayhem her 5-year-old great-grandson Wayne was causing at preschool. “I was on speed dial” at the school, says Edith, who is raising two ...

    December 28, 2013

  • Experts decry ‘resolution dependency’

    One of the country’s best-known fitness center chains is launching an initiative to wean people from what it calls an over-dependence on New Year’s resolutions....

    December 26, 2013

  • The 12 annoying songs of Christmas

    It’s that time of year, when Christmas songs fill shops, restaurants and your home. While anything on repeat can drive you mad, these 12 tunes are some of the most annoying....

    December 8, 2013

  • Caring for a cut Christmas tree

    Cut Christmas trees must be watered and kept hydrated to last through the holidays and to prevent them from becoming fire hazards. This includes small tabletop trees....

    December 8, 2013

  • Seven great holiday stories for season’s readings

    Holiday-themed movies and TV shows get the most attention during this time of year....

    December 8, 2013

  • S. Korea aims to cut into international comics market

    SEOUL, South Korea — Look out manga, South Korea is stepping up efforts to spread “manhwa” comics to the rest of the world....

    December 8, 2013

  • HalfDomeHike Resident follows in Muir’s footsteps

    Norman resident Jim Robinson said the day he started hiking, he understood John Denver’s famous lyrics about coming home to a place he’d never been before. “The home I found is a trail … almost any trail,” Robinson said....

    November 27, 2013 1 Photo

  • Study delves deeper into effects of autism

    People with autism experience a more extreme version of the world than the rest of us. For more than 90 percent, sounds are louder, colors are brighter, and touch can be a disturbing intrusion. The reason, according to a new study, may be ...

    November 27, 2013