School Opens Unique Shelters As Tornado Season Looms

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.

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