WICHITA, Kansas – Across the country, we’ve seen the destruction that storms can cause for communities.
When the storms come, the damage they leave behind can be tremendous. Back in 2000, officials with USD 259 made a commitment to put a safe room in every single school throughout the district.
“When we’re finished with our bond issue program, our current bond, we will have accomplished that goal. we will have a safe room in every single attendance center in Wichita Public Schools.”
It all started after three tornadoes came through Wichita, causing damage at Jefferson Elementary School, Grieffenstein Elementary School, and the Chisholm Life Skills Center in a short span of time.
The scene at Grieffenstein was eye opening after the tornado ripped off the roof leaving a large amount of debris in the hallway.
“At that point in time, corridors is where we sent kids to kind of cover their heads and sit, so if the tornado had been at the time of school occupancy, there potentially could have been some injuries.”
Eighty two schools currently have safe rooms in Wichita, and eight are still in the process of being paid for.
The rooms are built to withstand an EF-5 tornado event, with rooms in different areas depending on the size and layout of the school.
“At most of our schools, most of our elementary schools, they’re multipurpose rooms but there are locations where it’s classroom wings. We have some in music suites, we have some in wrestling or other athletic type rooms.”
Anyone who is in the building is told to go to the room during the storm, and parents are encouraged to resist the urge to come and try and pick up their students or join them.
Hedrick said that once the doors closed, they stay locked until the storm is over to keep everyone involved safe.Related links:
- VIDEO | FEMA “The ABCs of Safe Rooms”
- USD 259: Status of FEMA Safe Room construction in Wichita Public Schools
- USD 259: FEMA Safe Rooms – Keeping Students and Staff Safe in Wichita!
VIDEO | FEMA “The ABCs of Safe Rooms”
View in FEMA Multimedia LibraryVIDEO | “Stay Put, Stay Safe”, produced for USD 259 by KSN