Town of Wheaton, Missouri to build its first tornado shelter

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WHEATON, Mo. (KY3) – Community leaders have opened a new extreme weather safety room at the school in Wheaton.

Headteachers said this will also be their new cafeteria, and that the safe can hold over 600 people and is open to everyone.

Wheaton community member Jean Henderson said it was necessary.

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

Wheaton’s parent, Jackie Banks, loves the idea.

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

Parents, educators and community members are happy to have a safe haven in dangerous weather.

Henderson lives across from the school and said his son was hit by a tornado a few years ago.

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

Superintendent Trish Wilson said the $1 million school bond issue approved in 2016 would help realize the nearly $3 million vault.

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

Wilson said the security room will also serve as a new cafeteria and community center.

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

The parents are happy that construction will begin this spring.

“Amazing how safe my kids are at school now that when the time comes immediately they have a place to go,” Banks said.

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

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

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