May 21, 2013 10:54 PM by Connie Murphy

Oklahoma schools hit by tornado had no safe rooms

MOORE, Okla. (AP) - An emergency official says Oklahoma has reinforced tornado shelters in more than 100 schools across the state, but the two that were hit by this week's storms in suburban Oklahoma City did not have them.

Seven children sheltering in above-ground classrooms at the Plaza Towers Elementary School were killed. All appear to have survived at Briarwood Elementary.

Students and parents have been recounting stories of brave teachers who sheltered students but also describing moments of panic and fear. Students at both schools say they were ordered into the halls as the tornado approached. But in both cases, teachers then redirected at least some of the students to places that appeared safer, including a bathroom and a closet.

The director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management says it's up to each jurisdiction to set priorities for which schools get limited funding for safe rooms. Albert Ashwood says authorities are going to review which schools have safe rooms and try to get them in more schools across the state.


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