East Prairie schools hope to build tornado shelter - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

East Prairie schools hope to build tornado shelter

A new tornado shelter that would be built if voters approve a school bond issue. A new tornado shelter that would be built if voters approve a school bond issue.
East Prairie School Superintendent Scott Downing East Prairie School Superintendent Scott Downing
Mayor Kevin Mainard Mayor Kevin Mainard
The new facility would also be used as a junior high cafeteria and a multi-purpose gym The new facility would also be used as a junior high cafeteria and a multi-purpose gym
EAST PRAIRIE, MO (KFVS) -

East Prairie School Superintendent Scott Downing says a lot of students in his district are safer from tornadoes at school than at home, but a new tornado shelter that would be built by the Junior High would protect them from any tornado that's ever come through the area.

A new tornado shelter that would be built if voters approve a school bond issue next Tuesday would meet all FEMA requirements and be able to withstand wind speeds of 250 miles per hour, which is the same speed as an EF-5 tornado.

And Downing says students will be able to get to the shelter quickly.

"We know we can get all our high school and junior high kids in there in less than five minutes," he said.  "And with the staff members we have who are able to drive busses, we feel like we can get the entire student body and staff in there in less than fifteen minutes."

And if severe weather hits when school isn't in session, the safe room would be open to the public, something Mayor Kevin Mainard says the community needs.

"A lot of people don't have a safety net or a safe place to go when a tornado is threatening," Mainard said.  "So it will be a big advantage for our citizens to have a place here in town they can go and feel safe."

If approved, 75 percent of the funding from the project will come from FEMA with the remaining 25 percent picked up by the school district.

"The only thing we'll be doing is extending our bonds one additional year," Downing said. "We did a bond issue last spring to renovate some facilities here, and we'll just be adding an additional year to that. What that will do is generate about $520,000 to go to our local match."

In addition to being a safe room, the new facility would also be used as a junior high cafeteria and a multi-purpose gym.

East Prairie voters aren't the only ones that will see a tornado shelter on the ballot as a similar issue will go before voters in the Southern Reynolds County School District.

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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