University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren today announced that MA Plus, which was selected to design OU tornado shelters, is nearing completion of the planning for the $12 million OU tornado shelters. The project is an expansion of campus storm shelters to house students living in University housing.
Out of concern for students’ safety, Boren asked that University procedures be reviewed and updated for OU’s Norman campus for the 2014 tornado season. OU also sought the advice of consultants with special expertise in this area to help develop those plans.
“The University will be investing $12 million funded by funds OU receives under Section 13 of the state constitution to better protect our students from tornados and severe storms,” Boren said. “The safety of our students is our number one priority,” he said.
In September 2013, at Boren’s request, the OU Board of Regents approved the selection of MA Plus to help design a campus system of additional storm shelters. At that time, maps were distributed to students and posted in student housing indicating the locations of existing shelters to be used while additional space is being developed.
Beginning with this storm season, Boren introduced OU’s Severe Weather Procedure for Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) days, which are issued by the NOAA Storm Prediction Center. These situations are generally declared far in advance of storm activity during a period when all the conditions appear to be coming together to warrant a high threat. In those situations, the OU President may invoke an early closure of the Norman campus to allow people to gather their loved ones and proceed with their personal safety plans.
For these Particularly Dangerous Situation days where sufficient advance warning of impending weather is available, the University has designated Best Available Refuge Areas in select locations that can be accessed using University I.D.s by students residing in University housing and faculty and staff who are on campus at the time.
The new storm shelters are planned for locations near Walker and Couch Centers as well as Traditions East, Traditions West and Kraettli apartments and will provide additional storm shelter space for approximately 4,000 OU students with access more closely located to their OU housing.