Cost Could Prevent Building of Tornado Shelters

Last week’s tornado in Moore, Okla., has prompted government officials, residents and campus officials to debate how they can pay for safe rooms.

The idea of putting large tornado shelters in schools is not a new one.  A report by the National Institute of Safety and Technology after the 1999 Oklahoma City EF5 tornado made just this type of recommendation, reports the Daily Mail.

Although safe rooms might save lives during severe weather, the high cost of building shelters is a significant challenge.  It can cost up to $1 million to build just one shelter, reports the Associated Press.

That’s why places like Springfield, Mo., which has more than 50 school buildings, so far only has three that are equipped with a safe room that meets FEMA 361 standards, a room that can withstand the impact of an EF-5 tornado, reports WAMC.org.

Now a petition is being circulated in Oklahoma, calling on Gov. Mary Fallin to require all schools to have safe rooms, and a member Oklahoma’s House of Representatives has proposed a $500 million bond issue to pay for shelters at schools and in private homes. Additionally, Oklahoma has created a state fund that accepts donations for the construction of safe rooms.

The city of Joplin, Mo., which experienced its own EF5 tornado in 2011, will be putting tornado shelters in all of its schools. They will double as gymnasiums.

In some cases, FEMA can pay up to 75% of the cost.

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