Maple School Celebrates Safe Room Grand Opening
CALUMET, OK -- Maple School set a new standard in preparedness with the opening of its new Safe Room today. The room measures 920-square-feet and provides more than enough space for the 132 students and faculty to shelter in place in the event of severe weather.
Superintendent and Principal Richard Flurry and Sen. Bruce Price (D-Hinton) were on hand to celebrate and observe as students completed their first tornado drill in the new Safe Room.
The project represents a partnership between local, state and federal officials. The Safe Room was built with the aid of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which assists states and local governments in implementing long-term hazard mitigation measures. The program is funded through major disaster declarations.
“Every time we have a presidentially-declared disaster in Oklahoma, a special fund is set aside to help pay for projects designed to prevent and/or at least limit the effects of future disasters,” explained Connie Dill, Hazard Mitigation Officer, with the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM). Since 2000 alone, Oklahoma has experienced six presidentially-declared disasters.
Although the grants are federally funded, the program is administered by OEM. In addition to Safe Rooms, the grants have been used to fund drainage projects, NOAA weather radios, Reverse 911 systems, the OEM Safe School Program, development of local natural hazard mitigation plans and the acquisition of properties that repeatedly flood.
“This is an important step in keeping Oklahoma children safe from severe weather,” said Dill. “We hope one day every school in the state will have a Safe Room.”
An advantage of large Safe Rooms is the opportunity for them to serve multiple functions; otherwise they often end up as storage space. While not being used as an active storm shelter, the new Safe Room will act as the school library. Stackable chairs and folding tables make it easy for teachers or students to clear the room during an emergency.
“We know the Safe Room will succeed as a storm shelter, but we’re very excited to have a new library as well,” said Flurry.
Construction costs totaled $70,200 with the grant covering $52,650 and the remaining $17,550 paid by local officials. Maple School applied for the grant in September 2002 and was approved six months later. The school is one of 88 across the state that has applied for similar grants.