SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — When severe weather is in the area, the Springfield Greene County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), stays in contact with Springfield Public Schools. OEM Spokesman Brandon Surgnier says watches and warnings will be the factors in opening the doors.
“When tornado watches are issued, staff will come to the facility to get ready for the warning if it is issued.” says Surgnier. “Once a warning is actually issued that’s when the doors will open. There’s a zone called a tornado protection zone, and that zone is really meant for people who have a safe distance to travel to the facility.”
There are five FEMA approved Safe Rooms within the Springfield Public School district.
“Those five shelters, they’re at Kickapoo, Westport, Sherwood, Jeffiies, Freemont.” explains Bret Range, Director of Student and Safety Services at SPS.
He says the “tornado protection zones” are about a half mile radius meant to get people there quickly. They will have a crew on standby when severe weather is possible.
“We have staff, we have school police officers.” says Range. “Depending on who is working they come onto working that evening, come up and man those facilities when we have a severe weather event.”
Once those sirens sound, the doors will stay open for roughly 10 minutes, but the doors will shut once that weather gets bad outside of the safe room, which is normally in their gym or auditorium, and they will give the all clear when it is safe to exit.
While there may be places that open their doors for shelter, OEM makes sure people know about the ones on their website, greenecountymo.gov/oem.
“The safe rooms that we communication and information about are fema approved safe rooms. So although there are businesses and churches that might have shelters, they open their shelters at their own discretion.”