There's a domed building in Beggs that has an events center, a gymnasium and a huge storm shelter. The building has a steel frame and walls of concrete 16 inches thick. Everyone in Beggs knows it's the safest spot in town.
"It's built to withstand an F-5 tornado and it's our way of giving back the community since they gave the building to us in a bond issue, it's our way of opening up and helping them feel safe and secure," Superintendent Cindy Swearingen said.
Beggs schools built the dome in 2005. Cost was the major factor in the shape and construction. The safety of the building was a bonus.
The dome in Beggs could hold every student, teacher and parent. In fact, it could hold everyone in town with room left over. But that's not where they stopped with tornado protection. When they built a new 5th and 6th grade center, they also built a dome that's tornado proof. They can accommodate 1,000 people.
The glass doors in front of the domes are the only weak spot, but there's so much room people can be far away from there.
On Tuesday, school staff opened it up 5 p.m. By the time the storm rolled over, more than 400 people were inside, with plenty of elbow room.
"Everybody felt safe and they brought food and water and cots and they were sharing." Steve Lynch, Beggs Safety Coordinator, said.
The dome has not yet been tested in a severe storm, but the school district is convinced it's big enough to handle everyone who shows up during any kind of storm.
The Beggs Superintendent said people were still arriving when the storm front passed by.
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