New Creek County School Building Serves As Tornado Shelter
CREEK COUNTY, Oklahoma - A Green Country school district is starting this school year with a new building to keep students safe during severe weather.
Allen Bowden Schools in Creek County hasn't added any new buildings in the last 16 years, but being weather aware led them to build a fortified space.
This is a needed improvement, especially given the EF-2 tornado that just hit Tulsa.
The new building has the potential to save lives.
It cost $800,000 and took less than a year to build.
"The whole building is a tornado shelter that's going to house a new computer lab and a new library," said Superintendent Kelly Husted.
Husted has been on the job at Allen Bowden for three years.
"Our third-grade test scores have went up since last year," Husted said.
When he stepped in, he quickly noticed a need.
"At that time there was obviously no tornado shelter and I was told they go to the bathrooms," Husted said.
That wasn't good enough for him and he didn't want parents to have to worry.
"When they're at school, they're safe," Husted said.
The new media center — also serving as a tornado shelter — is centrally located on campus.
Pre-K through third grade is just feet away and other students just a few feet more, meaning all 340 kids can be inside in seconds.
"I think it's a peace of mind, especially for our parents," Husted said.
Even though one area is not quite finished, it will be a brand-new library for the students, but it's all inside of the tornado shelter.
They have flashlights ready just in case severe weather hits.
"We'll use every square inch of this for kids just to keep them safe," Husted said.
The walls are a mix of concrete and rebar. The ceiling is topped with a thick concrete slab and doors that can seal on a signal.
"It triggers these doors and they close automatically," Husted said.
He's thankful no one here had to use it when severe weather hit Tulsa nearly two weeks ago, but glad they now have an option.
"If we needed it, we could have used it," Husted said.
Allen Bowden students will head to class next Thursday to a place the superintendent calls a diamond in the rough that not many people know about.