The heartbreak felt across Oklahoma after the Moore tornado led to a call for change. School districts across the state are turning to voters for funding to build storm shelters and keep children safe.
"Some of us had to go into the bathrooms because that was the innermost part of the building," said Laurie Ross, a teacher in Elk City.
But this storm season, more than 800 elementary school students in Elk City can take shelter in a brand new, state of the art 5,000 square foot safe room.
"When you think about having somebody's heart and soul in this classroom, 21 of them, and nowhere to go, it's important," she said.
The lead architect on the project says it can withstand 250 mile per hour winds.
"The walls here are masonry concrete reinforced walls, you have that roof that is concrete deck, all the steel walls are attached to the foundation," said Socrates Lazaridis, with Renaissance Architects.
Keeping students safe became a priority in Oklahoma after the deadly 2013 Moore tornado hit at the end of the school day. The destroyed schools were rebuilt to include storm shelters but the district's plan didn't stop there. Last fall, Moore High School's new shelter was completed and can fit 2,600 people, enough for all the students and staff at the school.
"It's actually a break away shelter so we shut the doors and if something were to happen that building would remain standing, so it's a huge peace of mind," said Brandi Brickman, Moore High School Sophomore Principal.
The shelter was funded by a $209 million bond, which will also help put a storm shelters inside all 35 Moore schools by the summer of 2018. In Edmond, voters said yes to more than $200 million in school bonds to pay for shelters in all 27 schools and other improvements across the district.
"If a school needed a gym or a media center or a classroom those spaces will be built but they'll be built as shelters," said Bret Towne, Edmond Public Schools Superintendent.
7401 N. Kelley Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
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