8 Geography: Weekend blog task – Oklahoma Tornado

Oklahoma-tornado-1902131You may have heard about the devastating Tornado that struck Oklahoma last week. The article below talks about how it destroyed two schools and that there were no safety measures in place such as ‘safe room’ shelters.

What I would like you to do is read the article and then add a comment in reply to the question:

What would you do if a tornado struck Braemar! – Where would you go? Would our school survive a natural disaster such as this and if not what could we do to be prepared.

http://on.rt.com/of1mfr – Published time: May 22, 2013 15:56

Schools devastated by Oklahoma tornado had no safe rooms.

Rescue workers continue their efforts searching through rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School on May 21, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma.(AFP Photo / Benjamin Krain)

Rescue workers continue their efforts searching through rubble of Plaza Towers Elementary School on May 21, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma.(AFP Photo / Benjamin Krain)

Two Oklahoma schools destroyed by the devastating May 20 tornado lacked “safe room” shelters that cost up to $1 million, but could have potentially saved the lives of children who died in the wreckage.

Two elementary schools were destroyed in the EF-5 twister that killed at least 24 people on Monday and injured hundreds of others. Seven children were found dead in the debris of the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla.

Authorities believe that everyone who was at Briarwood Elementary School survived the deadly tornado, which ravaged the building with 200 mph winds.

“You could just feel the pressure just building like you were in an airplane, just the pressurization of the cabin and your ears popping and the debris starts flying and the roof falling in,” Briarwood’s first-grade teacher Sheri Bittle told ABC. “And everything in your classroom falling in on you.”

Both of the destroyed schools lacked tornado shelters, which would have potentially prevented many of the casualties and fatalities that occurred on May 20. More than 100 Oklahoma schools currently have metal safe rooms, which can be built above ground or underground and sustain winds up to 250 mph.

These rooms may be the difference between life and death in states where the tornado risk is high, but lack of funding to build them has prevented elementary schools like Plaza Towers and Briarwood from constructing shelters of their own.

Retrofitting a school with a safe room shelter costs an estimated $600,000 to $1 million per building, Bloomberg News reports. Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency, told the news agency that his department can’t afford to provide every school with a shelter, but that he is looking into whether the two schools had ever even applied for federal funding to build safe rooms.


A U.S. flag from the Plaza Towers elementary school is erected on poles in front of the school in Moore, Oklahoma May 22, 2013.(Reuters / Rick Wilking)

A U.S. flag from the Plaza Towers elementary school is erected on poles in front of the school in Moore, Oklahoma May 22, 2013.(Reuters / Rick Wilking)

“You have a limited amount of funds,” he said. “You set priorities. It’s not a matter of they were being left out.”

But Oklahoma residents refer to Moore as “Tornado Alley”, since the area has been struck by devastating twisters more than any other region in the US. In May 1999, a tornado took a similar path, ravaging Moore, killing 41 people, and costing the US $1 billion in damages.

Some residents believe that safe rooms should be a priority in Oklahoma – particularly in Moore, since it has a history of falling victim to tornadoes.

“If they can afford a $5 million football stadium, they can afford a safe room,” 67-year-old John Lemmon, a Moore resident who lives near Plaza Towers Elementary School, told Bloomberg. “They should have done it right after they had the last big one.”

While both elementary schools were reduced to rubble, students at Plaza Towers Elementary School were worse off. This traditional school building was constructed with a long line of classrooms that were all under a single roof. When the tornado caused the building to crumble, students were trapped in the wreckage of the structure, and at least seven of them died.

Briarwood Elementary School was divided into four sections, with several classrooms in each pod. Between these pods were openings that led students outside, which allowed students to escape the collapsing walls and ceilings.

No children died at Briarwood as they escaped the falling debris with backpacks over their heads. But both schools could have ensured the safety of their students if they had metal safe rooms to retreat into during natural disasters.

Now that children have died in the May 20 twister that ravaged Moore, Okla., the Federal Emergency Management Agency may reconsider providing the funding for safe rooms. The city of Moore has long been trying to acquire funds to buy them, and the city in February wrote on its website that FEMA requirements have held them back.

“If you don’t have disasters, you don’t have additional money for mitigation for safe rooms, but without disasters there’s not a set funding source just for safe rooms,” FEMA director Craig Fugate told ABC, indicating that changes may only occur when it’s too late to reverse the damage.


26 thoughts on “8 Geography: Weekend blog task – Oklahoma Tornado

  1. If this is happened to us breamar would not be able to survive the disaster. I think if we weare to preapre for that we would have a day off school because of the forcasts we would know that there is a tornado approaching.

  2. If a tornado come through Braemar, we couldn’t survive.
    A way we could prepare for it would have the whole area evacuated on short notice to bunkers of strong underground shelters.

  3. If we had this happen at braemar it would be very hard to survive.
    However we would know the weather forecast before then so we just have to make sure we check them and we could avoid the whole situation.

  4. If this happens to Braemar we wouldn’t be able to survive at all.
    To prepare for something like this were could have a day off or we can also have really strong bunkers

  5. We may be able to stay in hey wars hall but it wouldn’t be very safe. But it would be safer than just staying outside in the open.

    We are lacking in a safe room and/or bunker. So there is no really safe place in braemar but Hayward hall would probably be the safest area.

    To prepare we would have to know before hand but if we didn’t then there would be no way to properly prepare.

  6. If a tornado struck Braemar I think the safest place to go would be Heyward hall. I don’t think Heyward hall is tornado proof but it would be safer than in a classroom or outside.

    I dont think braemar would survive a tornado. What Braemar could do to prepare is to build tornado proof safe rooms (bunkers).

  7. If this happened at Braemar we would not be able to survive the disaster. If we weren’t advised about the weather conditions we would be stuck at Braemar and we wouldn’t have a safe building to go in but if we were we would have been able to ovoid the problem.

  8. If this happened at braemar we wouldn’t survive.
    We would know if a tornado was coming to us so we would have a day off school. If we were at school when this happened we would probably go underground.

  9. If this happened to Braemar I really don’t think that we would survive. Trees would fall and kill/injur us. If this was going to happen to braemar we would be aware because of the weather forecast. Braemar would definately be checking the weather forecast before hand.

  10. If a tornado struck Braemar, then I don’t think that the school would survive. But if a tornado was coming, we would most likely be informed and skip that day of school. If we weren’t then we could go to the underground place in the school. To prepare, we could get safe rooms.

  11. If a tornado hit braemar I would go to the underground passages under braemar house. I think that there is probebly the safest place in the whole school. I do not think I would survive though…
    To be prepared i would tornado proof HH

  12. I don’t think braemar would survive a tornado hit it because the school is soo old and the building would probably collapse, the place I would go would be the underground passages because it would be the safest.

  13. If a tornado came to braemar we would have no chance of surviving because we have no safe place or building to go to.

  14. Braemar could or survive a tornado like that it was huge.
    Butf we had some ned ground bunkers that cold fit he whole school maybe we could.

  15. If something like this happened to Braemar I would help clean and rebuild. But if this happened while we were at school the teachers would help keep us calm.

    • I would go to Hayward hall because it is a sturdy structure but I am not sure If it be strong enough. We should build a underground bunker to better prepare.

  16. I would run to heyward hall and be in there till its over. I only think heyward hall would survive if a tornado hits braemar.
    I don’t know what we could do to prepare for something like this. The only thing you could do is build a bunker

  17. If a tornado struck Braemar I would hide somewhere safe,(probably nowhere) but you wouldn’t survive because of all the trees around us, they would be blown everywhere.

  18. If a tornado struck braemar I don’t think we would survive because there are so many trees that could fall and kill us. I would find out if a tornado would strike again around that time, and go as far away as possible from the area. I think our school should have a safe area where the students can all fit and be safe.

  19. I would try and find safe cover, but I would not be able to go anywhere because braemar is to isolated to go anywhere. Braemar would not stand a chance and there is nothing that I could think of to help safe the school it would be devastated.

  20. If a tornado struck Braemar the school would do their best to try evacuate everyone but nowhere would be safe. So I would try to survive but there would be real point.

  21. If a tornado hit breamar, most of the building would get “relocated” and may not be recognisable. We would most likely have been evacuated from the area because they can tell when a tornado is most likely coming. But if it appeared out of nowhere then most people would have died or injured.

  22. The school would definitely not survive. If people weren’t evacuated or didn’t take the day off we would probably all die.

  23. Also if the tornado reached us when we were in the school we may not have survived. I mean we are up against a huge spiral of wind ripping houses off the ground. A human would not survive. But if we had an underground bunker and we got there quick enough we might be able to survive.

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