The Norman Transcript

News Features

June 21, 2013

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



Owasso’s Stone Canyon Elementary has the same type of storm shelters as Reagan.

“We’ve done them in Owasso and we’ve done them in Edmond,” Willis said.

Above-ground safe rooms tend to be quick access for students and allow for greater accessibility for students with disabilities. And smaller rooms are less expensive to make tornado safe.

“It’s pretty consistent. When you use a classroom model it’s less expensive,” Willis said. “When the room gets taller and wider, structurally, it takes more to meet that 250 mph wind rating.”

The added cost of Norman’s Truman Primary gym was double the cost of the Reagan safe rooms at $247,608. The total cost of the gym was $1,578,026, school officials said.

Goin said Edmond is currently planning for the future.

“We have capacity in designed safe rooms in schools for about 7,850 students, and another 4,100 approximately could shelter in below-ground facilities,” Goin said. “We anticipate it would require an investment of $26 (million) to $30 million additional dollars to outfit all of our schools.”

So far, all of Edmond’s shelters are in new construction.

“You have to go into it on a basis of a school-by-school site,” Goin said. “Retrofitting will present different challenges.”

Joy Hampton



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