Duncan Public Schools gets tornado shelters

Duncan Public Schools gets tornado shelters

DUNCAN, Okla._Duncan Public Schools is bracing for Mother Nature with the addition of storm shelters at three elementary schools.

Administrators have been working for the last two years in hopes of installing up to seven tornado shelters in what the superintendent is calling the district's most vulnerable sites. Thursday, four were delivered to two schools.

Mark Twain Elementary and Irving Elementary have had tornado shelters dropped off already; Plato Elementary will get one soon. All three schools are located in different parts of Duncan and all have one thing in common; unlike the other schools in Duncan they do not have a safe room. That is about to change with the installation of two above ground storm shelters anchored to the ground, and strong enough to withstand an F-5 tornado.

Three of Duncan's elementary schools were in need of storm shelters. Duncan Public Schools Superintendent Melonie Hau says the other schools already have safe rooms or shelters built in.

"We are committed to student safety. This was a priority for us, so we wanted to get our most vulnerable sites covered," explained Hau.

Hau says these elementary campuses only had a designated area within the building where they hoped students would be protected, in the event of severe weather. She says the new additions will guarantee their safety.

"These shelters are FEMA rated, the company says they can withstand an F-5 tornado, so we are very happy that we can make sure these students are now in a shelter," explained Hau.

Hau says the shelters will be placed parallel to one another, so students can be shuttled to one location. She says they'll be large enough to hold every student, teacher and faculty member. The shelters will also be equipped with back-up generators for lighting. Hau says, combined, the shelters will cost the district between $400,000 and $600,000. It's an investment she says the district can't afford to not make.

"Our hearts go out to those families and to the Moore School District. We want to make sure our kids are safe, and so I think that heightened the awareness that we need to make extra effort to make safety a priority for our kids," said Hau.

The shelters should be put in place by the time school begins in August. The shelters were paid for by the school building fund.