New Ala. schools must have safe areas for severe weather
This corridor and its doors are built to withstand winds up to 250 mph. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
As reports emerge from Moore, Oklahoma, that nation has learned that schools caught the full impact of Monday's EF-5 tornado.
Alabamians have also seen their share of devastation. Eight students died at an Enterprise school in 2007 when an EF-4 tornado destroyed the hall they took shelter in. Educators have almost always advocated hallways as the safe place.
Tuesday, reporter Karen Church investigated how Alabama's newest schools are being designed to save lives. After the tornado hit Enterprise, new standards were put in place to ensure Alabama schools can withstand severe weather.
Dr. Rafael McDaniel is the Jefferson County Director of New Construction. He gave FOX6 News a tour of the new Concord Elementary School, which will open this fall.
"If the children in Moore, Oklahoma ahd been in this school when the tornado hit...they'd still be alive," Daniel said. "This shelter can withstand 250 mile an hour winds."
Daniel says the $750,000 school is built with safe corridors and safe rooms with conrete slab tied to the walls. Even the doors are special.
"These doors...probably weigh about 350 pounds. It has a special locking device, that once you lock it, heavy winds are not going to knock them down," Daniel said.
The new school can hold up to 900 people if necessary so residents can seek shelter here as well in the event of severe weather.
Some districts are trying to add shelters to existing schools. The State Department of Education is working on a list of all the schools with storm shelters. FOX6 News hopes to add that list to this story soon.