The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


April 18, 2014

Our View: Safe and sound

— Of the 7,500 Joplin and Duenweg homes hit by the 2011 EF-5 tornado, fewer than 20 percent of them had basements.

We learned later that bathtubs were the best shelter many had against winds measuring more than 200 mph. And so, on that awful day, 161 people lost their lives.

But Joplin is safer today than it was in 2011. Hundreds of homes now have shelters or safe rooms because of a response propelled by fear and the pledge of “never again.”

And now thousands more Joplin residents will have a place to stay as community safe rooms open at schools within the Joplin School District.

Safe rooms at the new Irving and Soaring Heights elementary schools are already in use. Safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools as well as one at Junge Field are just weeks away from opening to the public. And the remaining safe rooms at Jefferson, Royal Heights, Kelsey Norman, Duenweg, Columbia and West Central elementary schools and at Joplin High School will be complete by fall.

One of the single best decisions made by city leaders was to rebuild or construct safe rooms at schools. The images of parents rushing to schools in Moore, Okla., after schools there were leveled by a tornado are hard to forget, and they shouldn’t be forgotten. Several children attending school were killed in that monstrous storm.

Not only will the safe rooms be used for students and faculty, but the entire community can be served both during and outside of school hours.

It is one of the results of the many lessons learned on May 22, 2011.

Perhaps in time, Joplin, which was poorly prepared for tornadoes of any size, will be known as one of the safest places to live during the tornado season.

After what the residents of this area have been through, that should be the goal.

No, that should be the reality.

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