Minnesota schools review tornado protocols

5:15 PM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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ANOKA, Minn. - In the wake of Monday's tornado in Moore, Okla. that leveled two schools and killed nine students, school preparedness is on the minds of a lot of parents.

In northern Minnesota, Wadena High School wasdestroyed by a tornado in June 2010.

Today at the new and improved Wadena High, tornado drills are taken very seriously.

We tagged along for a drill in April. It ended at the new gym which is also a fortified storm shelter.

"It's pretty much like a bunker," says Bruce Boyne, a school district official.

This room is constructed to withstand 250 mile per hour winds, the equivalent of an EF5 tornado, and it was paid for by FEMA.

They pitched in $950,000 to construct the room and the school spent $315,000 more making it into a gym.

For most other schools in Minnesota, a storm shelter that reinforced is cost prohibitive, but Anoka-Hennepin Schools say readiness is top of mind.

"We would move students out of this area just because of the skylights and potential for glass breakage or debris coming into this area," says Chuck Holden as he walks through a school hallway.

Holden is the chief operations officer for the state's largest school system and shows us the tornado plan inside every district classroom.

"The yellow rooms are rooms that we would evacuate to that are structurally sound," Holden says, as he describes a laminated school map.

Those evacuation rooms are smaller, with no windows and cinder block walls.

But Holden admits, a direct hit from an EF5 tornado like they saw in Oklahoma would be hard for any building to sustain.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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