The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

June 6, 2013

Our View: Shelters must be priority

— Galena, Kan., residents on Tuesday night joined the growing list of communities that are making storm shelters a priority for their children.

Voters in the Galena School District approved a $7.5 million bond issue by a 346-135 margin that will help pay for hardened areas at Spring Grove Elementary and Galena High School. These shelters also can serve as community shelters for neighbors.

Nearly every school in this area has made tornado shelters for schools a priority.

If they haven’t, they should.

We’ve been twice warned now — first with the tornado that struck Joplin in 2011 and then with the tornado last month in Moore, Okla. — that an entire neighborhood’s and perhaps even an entire town’s children are at risk when a tornado hits a school. Too many Midwest schools have been built on the open prairie, sitting there like tornado bait, with no basement, hardened areas or hope for students and teachers.

Anyone who has viewed videos of the Joplin High School hallways transformed into debris- and shrapnel-loaded wind tunnels — or the images of the grief-stricken parents in Moore — has seen all they need to see.

The days of asking our children to step into an interior hallway, cover their heads and rattle out an unauthorized prayer are over.

Storm shelters must have a higher priority than new athletic fields or new technology.

Lawmakers in Alabama already are mandating storm shelters for all new schools. Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and other tornado-prone states need to follow that path.

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