Maple School celebrates safe room grand opening
Event features student tornado drill
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