St. Louis Area Schools Lack Tornado Shelters

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BRIDGETON, MO (KTVI)-- The tornado deaths in Oklahoma leave a lot of people wondering about the lack of tornado shelters in schools.

Last year, the Bridgeway Elementary School in Bridgeton was a direct hit from the Good Friday tornado. Now it was evening and the student's weren't there, but if they had been they would have taken shelter in the halls because this school, like most schools in the St. Louis Metro area does not have an underground structure for the kids to take shelter in.

Like almost schools hereabouts that safety comes from the shelter of interior, above ground hallways.  That almost always works.

It does not work with an F-5 tornado like the one in Moore, Oklahoma.

The school there didn't have an underground shelter because it would have cost around a million and a half dollars.

Construction experts say building an above-ground FEMA-rated shelter to withstand an F-5 tornado would cost about $500 per person inside. For a school with 1,400 kids like Parkway Central, the cost would be around $700,000. You can roughly double that cost for building an underground shelter.

But some places, like the St. Louis city schools and Clayton schools, already have basements in their schools. And that's where the kids take shelter.

But most metro schools have neither basements nor underground shelters. And in the end, it all comes down to how much taxpayers are willing to spend to put underground shelters in schools.

The National Weather Service says since 1950, the US has been hit by 58 F-5 tornadoes. Two of them hit Moore, Oklahoma.

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