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Ark City home to FEMA-approved storm shelters

Posted Date: 03/11/2021

Ark City home to FEMA-approved storm shelters

As we enter Spring and the chance for severe weather increases, USD 470 wants to remind the community of the FEMA-approved storm shelters located at each of its elementary schools.


USD 470 Director of Business and Operations Will Pfannenstiel said the FEMA shelters were approved as part of the 2008 Bond Issue to protect students and staff members should a tornado strike during the school day. Still, the intent has always been to make them available to the public whenever possible.


“Safety is very important to us and every effort is made to ensure the shelters are open when needed,” Pfannenstiel said. “We are thankful for the opportunity to share this service with our community.”


The shelter areas, which include classroom additions and in one case, a gymnasium, have been open since 2010. All shelter areas 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.


A group of district employees and school neighbors serve as FEMA shelter supervisors in the event a severe weather incident happens outside the regular school day. Recently, these individuals met to review the district’s shelter operations plan and procedures.


When severe weather is anticipated, shelter supervisors 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, supervisors are given the OK to open shelters when they can. A green flag will be posted at the appropriate entrance to signify a safe room is open. Also, status updates will be posted to the district’s Facebook and Twitter feeds (@ArkCitySchools). 


“We appreciate this group’s commitment and ask that community members respect and cooperate with the shelter policies,” said Pfannenstiel.


For the protection and safety of all, guests are asked to comply with all requests from FEMA shelter supervisors and remain inside the shelters until the severe weather threat has passed.


 For more information about our storm shelters, visit


Adams; 1201 N. 10th (Southeast entrance) (Door C)

C-4 Elementary; 11945 292nd Rd. (Door F)

Frances Willard; 201 N. 4th (Door B)

IXL; 6758 322nd (Door A; back gym entrance is Door F)

Jefferson; 131 Osage (Door B)

Roosevelt; 300 N. B (Door A)