El Reno Schools: New shelters ready for storm season

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EL RENO, Okla. -- El Reno school officials say underground storm shelters at all the schools, but one, should be ready to go by next week.

Voters passed a bond issue back in 2013 and the superintendent says there was money left over.

So they decided to bury it in the ground.

“Every student, faculty member, support, kitchen, staff, everybody can go down there,” said El Reno superintendent, Craig McVay.

The underground storm shelter at the Lincoln Learning Center is built to hold 400 people.

“This is a bunker.  This is like what you saw in WWII in Germany,” said Director of School Safety, Rodger Roblyer.  “The floor is 3 feet thick, the ceiling’s 16 inches thick, all reinforced concrete.”

The walls are designed to withstand the pressure of the earth.

“They’re a foot thick with steel, two rows of steel,” said Jeff Johnson, Director of Operations and Maintenance.

District officials are hopeful all shelters will be finished by April first.

“We’re hoping that we can get it ok’d by the fire marshal to get students in here to do drills just as soon as we can,” said Roblyer.

Just down the road, construction is in full swing at the Canadian Valley Technology Center.

They were wiped out by the May 31st 2013 tornado.

Five above ground shelters are part of their new construction.

“We feel very confident that these rooms will survive, you know, they’ll survive the storms,” said Superintendent/CEO, Dr. Greg Winters.

And both the shelters at the public schools and the Canadian Valley Vo-Tech will be available to the public.

The ones at the schools will only be for students and faculty during school hours, but after hours, they will be open to anyone who does not already have a place to weather a storm.

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