Monday, May 20, 2013

Moore, Oklahoma Loses 20 Children to Tornado

Please send your thoughts, good karma or prayers to the citizens (and parents) of Moore, Oklahoma.

The tornado today went right thru two elementary schools killing at least seven children.  A high school nearby also got hit.  There are still children missing.  The schools - and nearly everything else in the area - were leveled. 

Here's a link to the Red Cross if you can help.


Anonymous said...

The devastation in Oklahoma is terrible. One thing that really hit home for me is the number of schoolchildren who perished when those schools were destroyed.
It got me thinking (and worrying) about potential disasters closer to home. Fortunately we are not prone to tornadoes in the NW but we are prone to earthquakes, and experts say it is just a matter of time before the next really big one hits. So I'm wondering a little about emergency preparedness in our schools and also about the structural safety of them. In particular, the really old ones - Lincoln for instance is around 100 years old. I think there are some other pretty old/run down ones too. A lot of Seattle's old buildings are unreinforced masonry structures that do really poorly in event of quakes. Does anyone know, or is anyone able to point me toward who is in a position to answer questions about what, if any, seismic upgrades have been undertaken, and what sort of codes buildings such as these are subject to? I was under the impression that at Lincoln some parts of building had been retrofitted or something, but not all - if so, how can we ensure only the 'safe' parts are used when they plan putting more kids/school communities in there. I would hate to think we could be putting kids in harms way by sending them to school in buildings that are potential deathtraps in the event of a quake. And from what I have seen of the workings of this district I have very little faith in them having done this sort of thing properly. Also do they have earthquake drills in our schools (I hear about fire and lockdown drills but kids have never mentioned earthquake drills).
Can anyone out there shed any light on seismic upgrades/safety etc or where I can get more info as far as checking what has been done, what codes apply (and compliance with any codes)? Is this something I should even be worried about or should i just trust that if they have it's a school it will be all ship-shape and safe?

Disaster aware

Melissa Westbrook said...

Disaster Aware, it is absolutely something to question. You are right on many points and, in fact, it might be good to ask if Facilities has any report about this issue.

I know the Meng Facilities report addresses some of what you ask. I know that a lot of BTA money has gone for seismic but your point about the age of the building versus the code that applies to it is valid. New codes apply to new buildings, not the old ones.

That said, I think the overwhelming majority of building have had some seismic. (But saying that reminds me that not all buildings even have sprinkler systems nor are they required to - many parents don't know that).

You could call Facilities and ask or better yet, write down your questions, send them end AND cc the Board.

As for the drills, you could ask Pegi McEvoy. She'd know for sure.

When my sons were at Eckstein, we realized that even with the emergency kits the district has at each school (and I can't even remember if there were one per student), we had 1,000+ kids. So we got a old and large storage container put outside and put in water, crude toileting equipment, extra clothes (because at any given time, there may be kids outside in PE clothes), first aid and some food.

Because, to understand, in the hours after an emergency, the kids may be outside, for hours, on the playground. The school may or may not be able to release them and parents may or may not be able to get to them. (This is one reason they like an emergency contact to be nearby.)

Anonymous said...

Despite this horrible loss, I was pleased to see so many people being interviewed on the news talk about how many incredible teachers saved children by shielding them with their own bodies during the onslaught. We cannot value or teachers enough—they truly do take our children's interest to heart. Kudos to them all!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that info Melissa. I actually went looking for the seismic reports on the SPS website and found the 2009 one for Lincoln - it turns out it did have some mitigation done in 1997; however there are significant deficiencies and a large amount of seismic work recommended in this 2009 report to make the building safe/bring it up to standard. The 'summary of deficiencies' runs over 4 pages; scary! I don't believe any of this has been corrected and that makes me very concerned for our kids who are now assigned permanently to this school for the forseeable future. Seismic reports seem to be available for all the buildings- some are excellent in that regard (the newly renovated ones) - though I haven't looked at many others. It's bad enough that it's a crummy old, rundown space with no proper playground and but I could get over that - what I'm really appalled about are the clearly highlighted structural deficiencies of this building and the lack of action to address these.

Disaster aware