Tulsa Public Schools are 'not' storm shelters

Wednesday, May 14th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa Public Schools announced Wednesday they will not open school buildings in the event of severe weather.

The statement comes days after hundreds of people took shelter at the education service center late Friday night. Tulsa Emergency Management leaders are investigating who authorized the opening of school buildings as shelters. News on 6 anchor Scott Thompson has an update on that investigation.

Last Friday the sirens sounded, the warnings were issued, and people were supposed to seek shelter. They weren't supposed to end up at Tulsa's Education Service Center. Tulsa Police Deputy Chief Bill Wells: "It was well intentioned just not the right thing to under those circumstances."

It's a mistake that could have cost lives if the tornado had hit Tulsa. Mike McCool, Tulsa Emergency Management director, "most of the schools are not designed if not all of the schools are not designed to properly shelter a great number of people against a tornado effectively." The call to open the school buildings came from the Tulsa Police Department.

Friday night hundreds of people called the police station asking where they should go during the storm. That's why the supervisors on duty decided to open several school buildings as shelters. About 600 people packed up their kids, some belongings, even their pets and headed towards the education service center. Some traveled several miles to get there. And emergency management officials say your car is the worse place you can be during a tornado.

McCool, "we want people to shelter in place at their homes we don’t want people after the tornado warning is put out to go out into danger." To clear up the confusion, the police officers have been briefed.

And Tulsa Public Schools has a new policy. No school buildings will be opened during a storm. Emergency management leaders say the education service center and other Tulsa schools could be used as shelters -after- a storm. But they are -not- storm shelters.