How Are Green Country Colleges Prepared For Tornadoes?

Thursday, April 28th 2011, 5:54 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Some of the people who died in the Alabama tornadoes were college students near campus. Most colleges in tornado alley have an emergency plan for twisters.

The University of Tulsa and Oral Roberts University both have a storm plan for each campus building that says if you are in this building, go to this specific room in a tornado.

Finding an interior room at Oral Roberts University shouldn't be hard. Storm shelter maps are posted in every building, designating that facility's safe room.

"It scares me a lot," Sammi Amoako-Boateng said.

Sammi is from Africa and tornados are totally new to her.

"Last summer, I was here and we had like three or four hits of tornadoes and one night around 4 a.m. we were told to go to the shelter and I was like, 'oh my God, I'm sleeping,'" she said.

Every dorm has a basement that can hold all the students in the building. Then there's an underground tunnel in the Learning Center. It's one of the safest places on campus and has been used several times, thanks to a very effective alert system.

"We have video monitors around campus and they put out the message and we actually have a voice message that runs over our intercom system," Gerry Isaacs, ORU Public Safety Director, said.

For students on the go, there's a text message alert system ORU offers that passes along any emergency information, including severe weather notifications. About 2,000 students have signed up for that service.

The University of Tulsa has a plan that's just as extensive.

"For tornado watches, we get emergency texts, so it tells you to be prepared and where to go," Emilie Witte, said. "If there's ever a tornado warning, we get another emergency text telling us to take shelter."

The university also uses social networking tools and a campus loudspeaker system inside and outside of campus buildings. Emilie Witte already has her storm shelter plan.

"I would just go to the freshman dorm, first floor bathrooms," she said.

Every year, ORU and TU review their severe weather plans and send out reminders to the campus community of general do's and don'ts and a list of shelter areas for each building.