storm shelter

FEMA Public Information Officer, Nate Custer, left, and Resource Manager, Sterling Rich examine a newly installed storm shelter in Arkansas.
Charles S. Powell / FEMA

Applications to build storm shelters have spiked a month after a tornado touched down in Moore.

Moore spokeswoman Deidre Ebrey says officials there have noticed an increase in the number of people applying for storm shelters since the March 25 tornado.

OU Mulls Additional Storm Shelters

Sep 17, 2014
benchilada / Flickr Creative Commons

The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents plans to discuss construction of storm shelters at its regular meeting Thursday.

In a release this week, the university said the board will consider a recommendation for the design and construction management services for three above-ground storm-hardened shelters for residents of the university's student housing facility apartment complexes: Traditions Square-East, Traditions Square-West and Kraettli Apartments.

Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office says the ballot title of an initiative petition to build storm shelters in public schools complies with state law.

Pruitt's office had five days from the date the petition was filed to make any changes needed to the ballot title. The office submitted a letter to the Secretary of State's Office Thursday that says the ballot title for State Question 774 complies with applicable laws.

Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

A group that wants to build storm shelters in every public school in Oklahoma has begun collecting signatures to place an initiative petition on a statewide ballot.

Tim Farley, spokesman for Take Shelter Oklahoma, says organizers began collecting signatures Wednesday. They must collect the signatures of 155,000 Oklahomavoters in 90 days to have the measure placed on the November ballot.

The petition drive comes more than a year after a tornado struck Moore on May 20, 2013, destroying two schools and killing seven children at the Plaza Towers Elementary School.

benchilada / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Senate has killed a proposal backed by Gov. Mary Fallin that would have called for a statewide vote allowing some school districts to increase property taxes to pay for safety upgrades like storm shelters and safe rooms.

The Senate voted 25-16 on Friday against the plan that had narrowly passed the House a day earlier.

The proposal would have sent to Oklahoma voters a proposal to allow school districts to exceed their bonding capacity one time over the next five years to pay for voter-approved safety initiatives, including storm shelters and safe rooms.

SFC Kendall James / defenseimagery.mil

The Oklahoma House reversed course Thursday night and narrowly passed a plan it had earlier defeated to help school districts pay for safety upgrades such as storm shelters and safe rooms.

House members voted 51-39 last night for the plan supported by Gov. Mary Fallin. It takes a minimum of 51 votes to pass a bill in the 101-member House.

The chamber had defeated the proposal hours earlier by a bipartisan vote of 61-34. House members said that Fallin's office had urged members of the majority GOP caucus to change their no votes.

Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

When the school shelter advocacy group Take Shelter Oklahoma formed several months ago, its goal was simple: to obtain enough signatures to get a $500 million bond issue on the ballot and use that money to build safe rooms in schools to protect kids from tornadoes. 

The group’s path has become a winding one, the most recent turn was at the State Supreme Court in a fight against Attorney General Scott Pruitt. 

hyku / Flickr / Creative Commons

Kathy Turner works with Take Shelter Oklahoma.  The group wants to build safe rooms to protect students from tornadoes like the one that destroyed Briarwood and Plaza Towers Elementary Schools in Moore.  Turner says her experience as a former school administrator showed her how important government funding can be.

Kate Carlton

Danni Legg transferred her two kids to Kelley Elementary this past August. She moved them from Plaza Towers Elementary, after the tornado in May destroyed the school, causing the death of her middle child, Christopher, along with six other students.  Legg says returning to Moore after the tragedy was something she did for her children. 

"I wanted my children to understand the town didn't kill their brother," Legg said. "A tornado and the lack of good construction in the building is what killed their brother."

Red dots indicate schools without shelters. Green dots are schools with shelters.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The results of a statewide survey released Thursday show 62 percent of Oklahoma’s 1,804 public schools don’t have storm shelters, and only 15 percent have shelters built to withstand the 250 mph winds of an EF5 tornado, like the ones that swept through central Oklahoma in May 2013.

StateImpact has mapped the data from the survey, the first statewide accounting of public school storm shelters, which was conducted by Bar None Consulting for the Oklahoma Legislature’s use in an interim study.

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