Oklahoma School Destroyed by Tornado

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — – Tushka Public School was destroyed by a severe storm that struck a small town about 120 miles southeast of Oklahoma City on Thursday evening.

Although no one was injured at the school, NewsOK is reporting two people died in Atoka County, seven more died in other areas of Oklahoma and Arkansas, and dozens more were injured. The news source also reports that some eye witnesses say two tornados hit at the same time.

Another witness who saw the damage to the school told NewsOK that the campus’ roof was gone and that the top floor of one of the buildings was torn off. The principal of the school told CBS news that five buildings on campus were destroyed. The campus will remain closed for the rest of the year.

Students will resume classes on April 25 in nearby community buildings and churches, KTEN reports. Some students may have to finish the year at surrounding schools.

The severe storm highlights the need for all campuses to create business continuity plans, Mike Dorn, executive director of Safe Havens International, tells Campus Safety.

“The coming summer may be a good time to revise your campus business continuity plans or develop them if you have not done so already,” he says. “Every campus organization from a child care center to independent, private, charter and public K-12 schools as well as any institution of higher learning should have this type of critical plan in place. Thursday’s incident in Oklahoma is a prime example of the need for even a small school in a town of only 350 people to conduct this type of planning.”

One option is for a school district to have a standby facility, just in case one of its campuses is rendered unusable due to a disaster.

“When I went to work for the Bibb County Public School System in 1989, my boss was a retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Colonial who was an engineer by education and a facilities director by trade,” says Dorn. “I will never forget when I asked him if the district was going to sell a school that had recently been closed after construction of a new school had been completed. He told me that the old school would become our new standby facility that could be brought online and operational in a matter of days should the district experience a fire, tornado strike or other event that rendered a school unsuitable for use for a lengthy period of time. I learned that the district made it a practice to always maintain one school in this fashion to enable the district to get kids back in class quickly in the event that one of its 50 or so campuses was seriously damaged.”

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