5th SEASON: Revisiting Red River Technology Center’s storm damage

Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 6:53 PM CST
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Severe storms can happen any time - day or night. The Red River Technology Center in Duncan experienced a powerful overnight storm that caused damage last year.

Officials at the National Weather Service in Norman believe it was straight-line wind damage that ripped part of the school’s roof off back in December of 2022. Not only did it rip off the roof, but it also caused a fire. The flames triggered the school’s security system alerting Superintendent Dennis Loafman.

“I thought it was just a fire at first, and then pulled up and saw obviously that was different,” he said. “You get the whole roof piled up over there, and obviously, we’re going to be a little while. It wasn’t just a small location with the fire, but it was quiet a bit more damage than what we’d first thought.”

Firefighters were leaving another call nearby, so they were able to get there quickly. Only one room was damaged by the fire, but several were put out of commission when the roof was ripped off. School officials then spent two days assessing all the damage to that particular wing.

“We were blessed in several ways,” Loafman said. “No students were here. No staff were here, and I’ve shown you our campus. You can see where it kinda just came down a narrow pathway and caught this corner of this building instead of the entire campus or multiple buildings.”

They were able to get classes resumed within two days, closing off the storm damage and moving students to different areas.

“So, I was really proud of our staff for adapting to that and making that happen for our students,” he said.

Walking through those closed off areas today, you can still smell the smoke. Daylight peeks through parts of the temporary roof, which was damaged by the late February storms. Loafman said their architect and construction manager are working get the specs right and ready for the bidding process to begin.

“Hopefully, late spring, early summer, we can be back in place,” Loafman said. “Since COVID, availability of products is sometimes an issue, so who knows with that, but hopefully we can get things repaired and back in place soon.”

He said one thing he learned is that severe weather can happen quickly, so you need to be able to put your plans in place within minutes.

“I feel like our plans for the day, if we had students, would’ve worked,” he said. “The ones that we had, we’ve evaluated them, and I feel like we would’ve been in pretty good shape.”

Loafman hopes students will return to a fully repaired building next school year.