New Ozark School Prepared For Tornado

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Not only is the new Carroll High School up to speed with cutting edge technology, but it’s one of the first public schools to have the maximum amount of severe weather readiness.

“What happened in Oklahoma made me think about how lucky we are to have this here in Ozark," Michael Lenhart, Ozark City Schools Superintendent said.

Ozark, specifically the new Carroll High School, is equipped with state of the art safety features to protect not only students, but the community as a whole from severe weather.

“This hallway and the classroom on either side of us are all storm certified… This is one of the first schools in America to be built to FEMA standard to have this kind of a shelter," Lenhart said.

The first of its kind because two years ago, new federal standards required the blueprint to include storm shelters.

“We were only required to have one. But when we looked at the plans, we saw that we couldn’t have one in a centrally located area that people could really get to," Lenhart said.

So now, the new Carroll High School has three. They can hold more than a thousand people.

“You want every public building that’s out there to have this kind of a shelter but, financially it’s just not, we’re not capable of doing that. No school system is," Lenhart said.

In total the safety features add up to roughly $2 million. That cost includes bathrooms, safety doors over windows and generators.

Don’t let the typical cement wall look fool you. These layers of cinder blocks are reinforced with steel rods. The roof is 18 inches thick with reinforced concrete, allowing them to withstand wind and flying debris of up to 200 miles per hour.

“So literally this little room right here could be covered in rubble for days and the people that were in here would not have to live in squalor after a day or two," Lenhart said.

Mr. Lenhart is proud to say the new school is at the forefront of safety technology and realizes this is not the norm.

“But it also made me think that I’ve got 4 other school buildings that do not have this capability. And one of them is our kindergarten school. And I just can’t imagine the pain we would feel if a tornado came through and hit our elementary school, or our middle school. It would be awful," Lenhart said.

Mr. Lenhart said even though most public schools aren’t able to have these capabilities, kids are just as safe at school as they are at home.

Students at Carroll High School are required to have monthly tornado drills to ensure they know which storm shelter to use.

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