TRUMANN, Ark.– Plans have been approved for the construction of two large tornado safe rooms at a middle school in Trumann, Arkansas.
Five months after a devastating tornado blasted through Trumann, one can still easily see reminders of the twister’s destructive power. They are images and memories that haunt Brandie Williams, the Superintendent of the Trumann School District.
“After this tornado came through our community and damaged around two hundred homes and many businesses. I mean it’s just natural to have heightened fear,” Williams said.
She said her worst fears have been for students at Trumann Middle School where there is no tornado safe room. In severe weather, it has meant busing students to safe rooms at the high school or elementary school.
“That drive is not that far across town, but it’s too far when you have that kind of weather and you have pouring rain and high winds,” Williams said.
Williams’ concerns are being addressed with the planned construction of two large steel tornado safe rooms at the Middle School. Fifth-grade students will be moved to the elementary campus where there are safe rooms in every hallway, freeing up classrooms for the conversion.
“We are putting those steel tornado safe spaces there. Each one is about five hundred square feet and it will hold all the students and teachers on this campus in those two spaces,” Williams said.
Williams said the rooms are designed to withstand an F-5 tornado.
Robert Tice, who attended the middle school back in the ’70s, lived through his share of storms and tornado threats while a student.
“You cannot put a price tag on a child’s life,” Tice said. “We would go in the hallway and we could hear, a lot of times, the roof cracking and popping.”
Tice gives the safe rooms a thumbs up for two special reasons.
“I have two grandchildren that are still in school over there. I want them safe,” he said.
The tornado shelter project is funded entirely through the Trumann school’s budget. Construction is scheduled to begin this Summer and hopefully be completed by the time school starts back.