TRUMANN, Ark. — Experts are calling for the chance of severe weather Wednesday evening that could impact areas of northeast Arkansas, and towns like Trumann are taking it seriously.

Students and staff at Trumann Middle School now have two safe rooms for added protection from damaging winds and tornadoes. Principal Janet Marks said the safe rooms are rated to withstand an EF-5 tornado

“We would have them go as far back in the corner as possible. There are three sections,” Marks said. “And then once we get everyone in here, everybody’s accounted for then the doors can shut, there are three locks on them, they just slide on through.”

Though they have yet to be used in a weather emergency, there have been plenty of safety drills.

“It takes us approximately three to five minutes to get in all 300 students plus staff and central office into the safe rooms,” Marks said.

Prior to the two 500-square-foot safe rooms being installed, students from Trumann Middle would have to be bused to safe rooms at either the high school or elementary school. It was a process that took far too long.

“You had to make sure that buses were lined up, drivers were lined up, everybody knew their seating order and those types of things to get over there safely and quickly,” Marks explained.

Each safe room is equipped with First Aid kits and earplugs for students who may become scared by loud noises.

While folks in Trumann Arkansas are no strangers to natural disasters like the December 2021 tornado that destroyed homes and businesses, it’s believed students at all levels now stand a better chance of survival while in school.

“The students have done a really good job of getting in there and taking it seriously and realizing this is a safe space for them,” Marks said.

Parents will still have the decision on whether to take their children home during severe weather. The safe room project was funded entirely through the Trumann Schools budget.