Tornadoes in ArkansasAs stated by the FederalEmergency Management Agency (FEMA), when we compare tornadoes to other naturaldisasters, tornadoes are considered to be the most violent (FEMA, 2008, p. 1). Arkansas is no stranger to deadlytornadoes. FEMA states that tornadoescan reach up to 300 miles per hour (FEMA, 2008, p.
1). According to FEMA, tornadoes occur frequentlyin the Midwest, Southeast, and Southwest (FEMA, 2008, p. 1). While schools are subject to many types ofthreats, “tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood inseconds (FEMA, 2008, p. 1).” Withrespect to tornadoes, “the state of Arkansas ranked fourth in the nation indeaths and fifth in injuries caused by tornadoes” (2008). There are staggering statistics that state”annually there are nearly 30 tornadoes with 9 of them categorized as beingstrong to violent” (2008).
Arkansas isconsidered to be within the Tornado Alley. Tornado Alley is an area within thecountry that suffers high numbers of tornadoes each year (FEMA, 2008, p. 2). Preparing for DisasterIn this article, the authordescribes the need to educate the community in regards to severe weather. When the article was published in 2008, the Stateof Arkansas was participating in four different awareness weeks in regards tonatural disasters.
During Severe WeatherAwareness Week, FEMA spreads the message about how to effectively prepare fortornadoes (FEMA, 2008, p. 3). Safe Schools Many people within a communityconsider their local school to be a place of safety and comfort. Due to this fact, schools are often looked atto provide a safe location during natural disasters. According to FEMA, Schools are often consideredpillars of a community’s identify. Sheltersin schools can be convenient and recognizable locations for residents to gatherwhen a community is threatened by a tornado or severe weather.
When not in use as a shelter, the space canbe used for community activities (FEMA, 2008, p. 6). Tornado Outbreak in the River Valley In thepast several years, the River Valley has been hit by tornadoes each season.According to FEMA, During the spring of 1996 thecities of Van Buren and Ft. Smith were struck by an F3 tornado destroying 1,949homes and 201 commercial properties. Damages resulting from this event were inexcess of 30 million dollars.
Manypeople were injured and 3 fatalities were recorded. Several school district buildings weredamaged or destroyed. (FEMA, 2008, p. 7)FEMA states that after the tornado outbreak in 1996, FortSmith and Van Buren were able to utilize Pre-Disaster Mitigation grants tobuild 9 storm shelters (FEMA, 2008, p. 7).
Financial Support for SheltersAccording to FEMA, “during theten years following the 1996 tornadoes in Fort Smith and Van Buren, theseschool districts received $11,700,000.000 in mitigation grants and constructed22 community shelters on their campuses (FEMA, 2008, p. 7).
” The funds brought in to construct the saferooms also provided a large amount of revenue for the community. Local businesses were able to benefitfinancially and the community gained access to the community shelters. Implications for School AdministratorsThe decisions made by a schooldistrict can affect large numbers of people. These decisions have the ability to impact the lives of our communityfor years to come.
This impact can beeither positive or negative based on the decisions of administrators in charge. The Educational Leadership ConstituentCouncil (ELCC) states that one primary role of a school administrator is to promotea safe learning environment for students. Administrators must be committed to the safety of all students and thecommunity in which the school resides (ELCC, 2002). School administrators must make it a priorityto find funding to better prepare our schools in the event of a naturaldisaster. School districts can seekfunding from the federal government to fund up to 75 percent of the cost of theshelter.