Jackson, NE school equipped with 'safe rooms' to protect kids f - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Jackson, NE school equipped with 'safe rooms' to protect kids from severe weather

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JACKSON, NE (KTIV) -

The damage done to two schools in Moore, Oklahoma, by an EF5 tornado, has made many parents question the safety of their own child's school.

In 2001, a tornado heavily-damaged Jackson, Nebraska's school just days before the start of the school year. The community had to rebuild it. And, in doing so, it took steps to protect students from Mother Nature's fury.    

Bob Hayes, Jackson Elementary Principal said, "It was just incredible." That's how Bob Hayes describes the damage done to the Jackson school by an EF2 tornado on August 17th, 2001. Bob Hayes, Jackson, NE Elementary Principal said, "The roof of that building just basically collapsed into the basement." When he saw the school, for himself, he was glad that students were still on summer break. Bob Hayes, Jackson, NE Elementary Principal said, "You just think of students and faculty in that school, and think probably no one would have made it."

Hayes is now the principal of the school built to replace the one  the twister tore through. Bob Hayes, Jackson, NE Elementary Principal said, "This building was built with a tornado in mind." It has two 'safe rooms' to shelter students during a storm. One of them is just off the school gym... and doubles as the boys locker room. Bob Hayes, Jackson, NE Elementary Principal said, "The walls are 8-inch concrete. The ceiling is 8-inch concrete." And, the room can take a beating. Deanna Beckman, Deputy Director of Emergency Management for Dakota County, NE said, "FEMA tells us the guidelines that they will hold up to 250 miler per hour winds."

Emergency managers, like Deanna Beckman, say tornadoes don't wait for schools to let out for the summer. Deanna Beckman, Deputy Director of Emergency Management for Dakota County, NE said, "Our weather pattern has changed so much. It used to be that students wouldn't be in school during tornado season. Now, we're seeing tornadoes hit anytime of the year, or straight-line winds is another reason to have 'safe rooms'."  Jackson's school does. Experience taught the town to be prepared.

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