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Marlow Schools Plan for Future Storms

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MARLOW Okla_ Students in Marlow, OK hunkered down in their halls Monday, as a tornado touched down in Stephens County.

7News Reporter Sylvia Corkill found out more about the construction of a new elementary school there that was designed with storms in mind. In 2011, voters approved an $11M school bond that will pay for the new school. The school's price tag was a lot heftier than just your average elementary school: about a $3M difference. That difference could mean life or death.

The central classes within the building are being constructed to withstand an EF-5 tornado, something the school and community wanted, especially in a state often referred to as Tornado Alley.

You have a hurricane, and you have three weeks to prepare. With a monsoon, you know it's coming. Tornadoes, they pop up any second," Marlow Public Schools Superintendent George Coffman said,

That's what Coffman said happened Monday.

"When the first tornadic activity started, we were getting ready to start our elementary school students going home," Coffman said.

Once they learned a tornado was on the ground, students were shuffled into shelters. Monday's tornado in Moore, Oklahoma claimed the lives of at least nine children while they were inside of an elementary school. Marlow school officials say if they ever find themselves in the path of a tornado, they hope this new building will keep anything like that from happening here.

Tens of thousand of pounds in concrete and steel bars are going into its construction, keeping those inside safe.

"The number one commodity that the citizens of Oklahoma have is our children," Coffman said. "We are going to try to educate them, keep them safe and secure and do whatever possible."

Coffman said this building will be large enough to shelter all three levels of school in one location, something he said is key when faced with disaster.

"Monday, I had one boy at the middle school and one at the high school," Coffman said. "The one at the middle school wanted to go to his big brother, big brother thought he was going to get little brother, and next thing you knew, neither one knew where each other were."

Coffman said the new school will be the pride of their students and community while also keeping them safe.

"I want our kids prepared for lots of things in the world, and I want to see them around for a long time," Coffman said.

Coffman said the school is expected to be finished within a year. He said part of the currently elementary school will remain, while the additional trailer like classrooms will be removed.

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