LAWTON, OK (RNN Texoma) - Safe room construction is underway for seven elementary schools in Lawton. This comes after voters passed a nearly $100 million school bond. $14.5 million dollars was allotted to build storm shelters.
Crosby Park has an open school concept which makes finding interior rooms difficult. Dana Moore, Crosby Park’s principal, said in the past students have gone under their desk or squeezed into bathrooms and closets when a tornado warning is issued during school hours.
"It's hard when you have over 300 students in one building to cram them into bathrooms and into little storage areas to keep them safe,” Moore said. “So, this is something that parents are very, very happy about but also the teachers because we would do anything for our kids to keep them safe."
Almor West, Carriage Hills, Crosby Park, Edison, Hugh Bish, Sullivan Village, and Woodland Hills were picked to get the shelters after a survey said they had little to no adequate shelter from a storm.
The safe rooms will have 10” concrete walls that can withstand 250 MPH winds. They’ll also have FEMA rated doors and windows. The new rooms will double as classrooms when the skies are clear, but it hasn’t been all sunshine for the construction crews who are trying to get them finished before tornado season.
"We've had some issues with some of the weather getting some of these erected but as you can see, this building right behind me we have only two more to build just like this and then we will start on the interior work," safe room project manager Jeff Williams said.
Moore said it means a lot to her, knowing her students are going to be safer this storm season because of the safe rooms. She said the staff is excited about the progress. As for the students, they're fascinated by the heavy equipment but don't really know what the shelters are going to be used for yet.
“I don’t think they understand that it’s a true safe room, but as we get closer, especially to storm season, that we will definitely have lots of conversations with them about that,” she said.
They hope to have all of them done by the beginning of April weather permitting.