Sound Off

Sound Off: Where are public tornado shelters located in Lawrence?

Douglas County Emergency Management Director Teri Smith said the city does not have any Federal Emergency Management Agency-approved safe rooms. “Individuals should seek shelter in the lowest level of a sturdy structure with the most walls between them and the outside with no windows,” she said.


RoeDapple 3 years, 1 month ago

Maybe the city could open up some of the old tunnels under downtown . . . or just keep them open for the homeless . . .

bangaranggerg 3 years, 1 month ago

You're suggesting we open condemed underground tunnels for the homeless to live in? What a humanitarian! Brillant! Thats quite a platform you'd have for running for city council. Fresh ideas, really, bravo.. :|

ccp 3 years, 1 month ago

The school is closed on the weekends, and the doors do not automatically open.

ccp 3 years, 1 month ago

That system is not in place right now, so I would not want to advise anyone to go there. The doors will be locked.

ccp 3 years, 1 month ago

No worries at all. Just wanted to make sure no one headed that way and got stuck outside if things get crazy this evening.

SeaFox 3 years, 1 month ago

Nevertheless it's still very amusing you seem to be better informed that the actual Emergency Management Director.

Jack Martin 3 years, 1 month ago

There is a tornado shelter in the School of Pharmacy. Its capacity is rated at 499 people as it is intended to shelter people in the school and those in the buildings immediately surrounding the Pharmacy building. I do not think it is recommended that you get in your car and try to drive to a shelter during a warning.

Also, the commenter who said the remote opening system is not yet operational is correct.

muddfoot55 3 years, 1 month ago

My mobile home park has been told to go to the hospital, about 3 blocks away. But they do not allow us to bring our pets in, even if they are crated. I believe any state where tornadoes are expected, mobile home parks should be required to have an on site shelter

kuguardgrl13 3 years, 1 month ago

I believe most apartments (at least mine) tell you to go to the lowest level of your building. For me that's the laundry room or my downstairs neighbors. They really should consider public shelters though. I'm from Minnesota, and I believe public buildings (schools, malls, etc.) are required to have designated shelters with signs. Kansas has more tornadoes in a year than Minnesota. Shouldn't we be more prepared?

kuguardgrl13 3 years, 1 month ago

My plan is to head for Murphy Hall if we're ever in a serious tornado warning. It's always open, and the first floor has several interior hallways. Either that or Wescoe.

Liberty275 3 years, 1 month ago

We won't go to any shelter that won't allow our dogs. That saves two places for the rest of you. Good luck.

3 years, 1 month ago

I think the main objection is the fact that it's a hospital and animals bring germs and fleas and allergies to patients.

parrothead8 3 years, 1 month ago

Don't people carry germs and fleas and allergies as well?

greenworld 3 years, 1 month ago

lowest level of house or basement if no basement then go to bathroom and lay face down to bathtub is what I heard, If neither of those then RUN LIKE HELL!!!!

Lana Christie-Hayes 3 years, 1 month ago

Hmmm.. Maybe some of the $ spent on things like expanding the library should go to providing a few shelters around town!

walkthehawk 3 years, 1 month ago

no kidding--why is this not a priority? do we think Joplin couldn't happen here? and don't make the argument that people have made the investment in safety that they see fit--we literally could not FIND a house with a basement when we purchased. A walk-out was the best we can do. The available housing stock is not built with basements, and the city doesn't feel the need to invest in tornado shelters, either? interesting decision.

gsxr600 3 years, 1 month ago

Duh, which do you think are more common? Stats aren't going to matter if you're dead.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 1 month ago

Jane, I appreciate both the statistic and the perspective it provides, but can you please explain to me why you use the term "from a source," which seems to be a growing convention, but I find personally very annoying just because it doesn't help anyone at all who might be interested in verifying that information or find out more about it? Why not just link to the source?

SeaFox 3 years, 1 month ago

Speaking of the library, wouldn't the basement level of the current library make a great tornado shelter?

pbunyon 3 years, 1 month ago

It would seem that Ms. Teri Smith should address this issue with the city council. Perhaps the architects that recently moved downtown could offer free assistance reviewing some public buildings that would meet the requirements for a safe public shelter..I'm old enough to remember the horrific storm that hit Topeka..

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 1 month ago

"It would seem that Ms. Teri Smith should address this issue with the city council."

And just what have you been smoking. This city commission is occupied by persons eleced by 14 voters (who bother to vote) who only know the verse and refrain to that old golden olide "Beautiful Downtown Lawrence" Not on my hit parade.

Sharon Nottingham 3 years, 1 month ago

I think that the park and rec Community bldg downtown has a shelter on the lower level. IMO shelters should always get included with all new city structures.

kernal 3 years, 1 month ago

In an ideal world that would be the smart thing to do, Jane. But, a builder told me that to add a basement to a 2,000 sq. ft . house would add $25,000 to $35,000 to the price ; that's for an unfinished basement. I don't know how much it would add to tenants rent, but there aren't many apartment complexes in Lawrence with basements as storm shelters for tenants and as long as city code doesn't require some type of storm shelters for multi-family dwellings, there won't be any. Lawrence already surpasses most surrounding cities for real estate and rent prices. Some people have purchased homes with an above ground shelter but it turns out most of those aren't any good for tornadoes stronger than an F2 and none of them for an F5. In fact, many basements aren't much good in an F5

I've often wondered, and asked, why builders don't build new residences with partial basements just large enough for some storage and a tornado shelter. Still waiting for an intelligent answer rather than a shrug.

Kat Christian 3 years, 1 month ago

In order to sustain an F5 you'd have to have an underground shelter deep enough to withstand the winds and I doubt there are many of those if any. Most likely nothing will be done until we encounter total devastation in this town then perhaps ....perhaps mind you the arrogance won't get so much in the way of doing the right thing instead of thinking in only $$ signs.

Kat Christian 3 years, 1 month ago

easier said then done Jane. You must live in a bubble.

DillonBarnes 3 years, 1 month ago

How feasible is this for the 30,000 college students in this town? How many apartments are there college students can afford that actually have a shelter of some kind? Sure, there are a couple, but not enough for everyone. Maybe you can afford a house with a basement, but there are many people who cannot.

DillonBarnes 3 years, 1 month ago

I actually took more issue with your idea that it was all these people's fault for not having a home with some kind of shelter. Not everyone can have a basement or access to a shelter, even if they want it.

Is it feasible? Well it wouldn't be easy. All of these cheap student apartment housing going up don't seem to have a shelter.

Kat Christian 3 years, 1 month ago

I just love this comment....I know this isn't a laughing matter but hey you either laugh or cry in life and I'd so much rather be laughing as my last gesture of breathe on this earth. Thank You g_rock you just rocked my world.

Kat Christian 3 years, 1 month ago

Sorry g_rock had to borrow your comment for my facebook. hirlarous.

pbunyon 3 years, 1 month ago

Hi Yeoman2, I'm not smoking anything, just offering a suggestion for improvement. Do you have any ideas that would help the promotion of shelters?

melott 3 years, 1 month ago

  1. Don't expect Teri to lift a finger to promote public shelters. She is content with making announcements.
  2. You can construct an above-ground shelter with room for 4 people for about $8000. FEMA plans. Secure against tornadoes up thru level 4.

Bassetlover 3 years, 1 month ago

Teri is one of the BEST emergency managers in the state. Why would she waste her time promoting something she has zero control over? She makes more than announcements....she walks the talk. She advocates tirelessly for preparedness and self-reliance.

thelonious 3 years, 1 month ago

Respectfully May 2008, when we lived in west Lawrence, there was a small tornado west of Lawrence in rural Douglas County, NWS issued a radar-indicated tornado warning with a polygon that included west and northwest Lawrence...and no sirens were blown. Why? Because she told me at the time that Douglas Co EMS only blew the sirens if they had a spotter-confirmed tornado on the ground...this was well after dark, so that was a ridiculous policy. Bottom line - when NWS issues a tornado warning polygon for Lawrence, then sirens should go off. Period. Perhaps this is policy now, but in May of 2008 it wasn't, and so I can't agree with your statement. Also, as for preparedness and self-reliance, that was not enough for residents of Joplin that had no basement or appropriate shelter to go to. She SHOULD be advocating for public shelters and builder codes that require shelters in apartments, etc. Any less is just BS...if all that is required of her position is to tell people to get in their bathtubs when sirens blow, well, I could certainly do that!

Benthic 3 years, 1 month ago

I have a basement in my home, so I don't give a sh#t.

Kookamooka 3 years, 1 month ago

I was surprised when I moved to Lawrence that developers were ALLOWED to build apartments and houses without safe rooms and/or a shelter for their tenants. I guess it's everyone for themselves. Not a good situation. But tornado alley is in TX and OK now.

grammaddy 3 years, 1 month ago

It surprises me that those building houses in "Tornado Alley" are not required to build them WITH basements. I guess "common sense" really isn't all that common.

lawrence_townie 3 years, 1 month ago

I wasn't going to get into this debate, but after reading all the comments, I feel I must. I remember as a child in the 70's there were in fact public shelters located at popular intersections(such as 21st and Louisiana or Neismith). For whatever reason those were dismantled and are no longer there. Perhaps someone knows why?

Also, I live in a house built in 1945 that does in fact have a fully concreted in storm shelter, including a concrete ceiling, in my basement that is able to withstand an F5. It has an air vent and shelf storage for enough food until help arrives should we become stuck under debris. While I realize I am lucky and that this is not the norm today, builders then were aware of the necessity for such rooms for the simple fact that we are in fact in tornado alley. It is possible to build these spaces for not much more money than a normal basement, you would only need to add the ceiling and two additional walls because basements are already built with concrete. They needn't be finished basements, just included in the base structure. I agree that an ordinance should be in place to require building these it in every new house or in the form of a common area for new neighborhoods.Builders should not be able to pass that cost along to the consumer. While some may say this is not possible to monitor, the cost to built said structures is somewhat static and doing so should be simple to do so. This is merely a suggestion, so before you spew you hate on these comments please take a moment to ponder. I am not out of touch or rich, just giving another point of view to this serious problem. .

YetiPrime 3 years, 1 month ago

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