Jackson elementary plans authorized for tornado safe room - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Jackson elementary plans authorized for tornado safe room

(Source: KFVS) (Source: KFVS)
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  • Gov. Nixon announces student safety enhancements in Jackson

    Gov. Nixon announces student safety enhancements in Jackson

    Monday, September 19 2016 3:43 PM EDT2016-09-19 19:43:24 GMT

    During a visit to West Lane Elementary School in Jackson, Missouri on Monday, September 19, Gov. Jay Nixon announced he has authorized the State Emergency Management Agency to proceed with a proposal to build a tornado safe room capable of protecting more than 2,500 students, staff and residents in the Jackson R-2 School District.

    During a visit to West Lane Elementary School in Jackson, Missouri on Monday, September 19, Gov. Jay Nixon announced he has authorized the State Emergency Management Agency to proceed with a proposal to build a tornado safe room capable of protecting more than 2,500 students, staff and residents in the Jackson R-2 School District.

JACKSON, MO (KFVS) -

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon visited West Lane Elementary School in front of the entire school packed in the gymnasium on Monday, September 19.

Gov. Nixon authorized the State Emergency Management Agency to proceed with a proposal to build a tornado safe room at West Lane Elementary School.

This safe room will be capable of protecting 2,521 students, staff and residents in the Jackson School District.

Not only will West Lane Elementary benefit from this, but Orchard Drive Elementary and the Jackson Junior High School will be able to use it as well since they are near the elementary school.

"From a school standpoint, this is a very populated area," Jackson School District Superintendent John Link said. "Also, if you look from a community standpoint, there's a lot of homes right here, some apartment complexes and there's a lot of areas that are set to start building."

Gov. Nixon said Cape Girardeau County has had 21 tornadoes pass through the area in just the last 18 years.

"This is clearly an area that needs to be hardened and prepared and the number one target to do that is our schools," Gov. Nixon said. With the dollars we have available, this district won a competitive grant and the three million dollars we have will match one million dollars locally and you get a new gym and a safe room. That's important for the people's confidence in the community if something bad happens and it's also important for our responsibility for these kids."

Many people we talked to said this safe room is much needed for the safety of everyone. They recalled the EF5 tornado that hit Joplin several years ago as well as the EF3 tornado that swept through the heart of Jackson in 2003.

"I think we've got a good start," Link said. "I think when you look at the civic center that the community just built, that safe room, then you look at the one here in the middle of town, if we can continue talking and continue the conversation and continue to build more safe rooms, then yes it can't do anything but to make our community safer."

Superintendent John Link knows all too well about the need of a safe room as he dealt with a tornado that hit a Fair Groves elementary school back in 2009 in Fair Groves, Mo where he was superintendent at the time.

"Not only did I have 1,500 students in the building when the storm hit but from a personal standpoint, two of my children and my wife was in the building," Link said. "It's just one of those things that you never forget. You never forget the screams and you never quit trying to make things better for the future."

Community safe rooms are specifically designed to withstand 250 mph winds. Walls and roof sections are capable of withstanding debris thrown from the winds as well.

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