School Opens Unique Shelters As Tornado Season Looms

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Storm shelters are now ready for use at one local school district just in time for tornado season.

The Arkoma School District in LeFlore County, Okla., has water tanks transformed into storm shelters ready to be used.

“The architect told me these would withstand an EF-5 tornado,” said Arkoma Supt. John Turner. “We feel very confident our students will be very safe here.”

Turner said the six tanks cost $16,000.

"It's different," said Turner.

Turner estimated the total construction cost around $100,000.

"This is going to save some lives,” said Turner. “It's something that benefits the whole community."

The six shelters hold 500 people. For the small town of Arkoma, Turner said that’s a big boost of security.

"Normal protocol was just to get in the hallway and crouch down," said parent Mandy Lewis. "It just puts a little more peace to mind to know that we have somewhere to go."

At first, plans were in place to build an above-ground safe room, but with finances tight, the district decided to take a different route.

"A storm shelter, the one at the elementary, would have cost half a million dollars," said Turner. "We thought it would be a good investment if it's going to save that many lives."

The school said the storm shelters are open to the public.


  • Some Guy Paying Attention

    People: Those “water tanks” look very much like former underground petroleum fuel storage tanks. Probably not the best places to be sheltering kids. Someone should ask where they came from. Might not like the real answer.

  • CAE

    Not to mention, there is no electricity, so you will be in a pitch-black locked metal container underground. Seems like the little kids would be terrified of going inside those things. Also, what happened to the Federal grants to help pay for the above ground shelters? The numbers I have heard (in Arkansas) are as follows: those shelters cost around $1,000,000. Federal grants pay for 75% and in Arkansas, state grants pay for 12.5%, so the District pays approximately $125,000 for each above ground shelter built. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they have something safer than before, but I wonder about the implementation. The above ground shelters (theoretically) unlock automatically with the sirens. Would these have to be manually unlocked? Who would do that? What if that person couldn’t do it for some reason? Too many questions for me. Good luck to the citizens of Arkoma. Praying everyone stays safe this weekend.

  • Marie

    Oh come on people they are not going to be in there for a week. It is for a dire emergency. Something is better than nothing. I am sure they have given thoughts to all the safety needs.

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