City of Wheaton, Mo., to build its first tornado storm shelter

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 4:23 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2022 at 4:26 PM CST
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WHEATON, Mo. (KY3) - Community leaders broke ground on a new extreme weather safe room at the school in Wheaton.

School leaders said it will also be their new cafeteria, and the safe fits over 600 people and is open to everyone.

Wheaton community member, Jean Henderson, said it was needed.

“I think it’s great,” said Henderson. “We’ve been trying to get it for a long time.”

Wheaton parent, Jackie Banks, loves the idea.

“They’re immensely safer now,” said Banks. “There’s no question about it.”

Both parents, educators, and community members are excited they’ll have a secure shelter in dangerous weather.

Henderson lives across the street from the school and said her son had a close call with a tornado a few years ago.

“It took off his part of his roof, took off his back porch, wrapped his canoe around his peach tree,” said Henderson.

Superintendent Trish Wilson said the $1 million school bond issue approved in 2016 would help get the almost $3 million safe room done.

“We had a tornado hit just feet from our school about four years ago,” said Wilson. “That moment, really, in my mind, we were going to find a way to make this happen.”

Wilson said the safe room will double as a new cafeteria and community center.

“It’s definitely a peace of mind for myself and the administration and our community,” said Wilson.

Parents are happy construction starts this Spring.

“Amazing to know how safe my kids are at school now that when weather comes immediately, they have somewhere to go,” said Banks.

“I think it’s very necessary for Wheaton to have it,” said Henderson.

Wilson said it is too early to tell if this room would be open 24/7.

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