|School storm shelters open to community|
Posted Date: 05/18/2017
The Spring storm season is upon us and USD 470 wants to remind the public that all district elementary schools have FEMA-approved safe rooms.
The shelter areas include classroom additions and in one case, a gymnasium. All safe rooms meet FEMA standards and are built to withstand winds of an EF-5 tornado – approximately 250 mph. The safe rooms are reinforced with concrete, as well as steel doors and steel window shutters, to protect against debris projectiles.
USD 470 Director of Business and Operations Jeri Crumbliss said the FEMA safe rooms were approved as part of the 2008 Bond Issue to protect students and staff members should a tornado strike during the school day. While that remains their primary function, the intent has always been to make them available to the public whenever possible.
“We try our best to accommodate community members after school hours too,” Crumbliss said. “We’re incredibly fortunate to have these spaces and are more than happy to share them with the entire community.”
Neighborhood residents and district employees serve as FEMA safe room hosts in the event of a tornado or other severe weather outside of the regular school day. Recently, these individuals met to review the district’s shelter operations plan and procedures.
When severe weather is anticipated, safe room hosts are alerted and know to be on the lookout. District administrators receive regular updates from emergency management officials and if/when a potential need for shelter arises, volunteers are given the OK to open safe rooms when they can. A green flag will be posted at the appropriate entrance to signify a safe room is open. Also, the district Twitter feed (@ArkCitySchools) is a good place to look for status updates.
“We appreciate these volunteers’ commitment and ask that community members respect and cooperate with the shelter regulations that are in place for everyone’s safety,” Crumbliss said.
The following regulations will apply: No pets, except service animals, are allowed in the safe rooms. Drugs, except properly prescribed medications, alcohol, and weapons are also prohibited. The school district is making these areas available as a service to the community and is not responsible for accidents or injuries occurring while the safe rooms are in use by community members. For the protection and safety of all, guests are asked to comply with all requests from FEMA safe room hosts and remain inside the shelters until the severe weather threat has passed.
View our severe weather page for more inforomation.