New Tornado Shelters Provide Safety For Oologah Community

Friday, March 24th 2017, 8:00 pm

If severe weather were to hit Oologah, the school district would be able to shelter nearly 3,000 people.

Any time a tornado warning is issued, the doors at the new shelters will be opened and students will head inside for safety. Two new storm shelters, with restrooms and running water, are expected to withstand EF-5 tornadoes.

It's a different picture than the one John Wylie with the Oologah-Talala Emergency Medical Services remembers when a tornado wiped out the school in 1991.

"It looked like a war zone," he said. "The school was completely shredded - I mean, this campus was gone."

Since then, Superintendent Max Tanner said students would take shelter the way any other district would.

"You go to a hallway or a classroom and you hunker down under a table or a chair and that's about all you could do at that point," Wylie said.

Until now, with a safe place for the community to go. Tanner said the shelter isn’t just for students and staff - the public can also take shelter on nights and weekends.

"The bond issue was passed by the community and we wanted them to be able to take part in using this facility," the superintendent said.

The district expects the $4 million shelters will be used as classrooms and a common area in the future; but, until that happens, it's just meant to keep everyone safe.

"Hopefully, we'll never have to use these facilities, but it's nice to know that we have them here if we need them," Tanner said.

Oologah-Talala EMS dropped off first-aid kits for the shelter - one more example, the district said, it’s ready for severe weather.