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Locust Grove schools turn to dome-shaped buildings for protection during storms

Locust Grove schools turn to dome-shaped buildings for protection during storms (KTUL)

The images still haunt Oklahomans to this day. On May 20, 2013 in Moore, Okla. an EF-5 tornado tore through Plaza Towers Elementary School and killed seven children.

During the years since, any educator will tell you that day changed everything.

“In Oklahoma, especially with the tornadoes that have ripped through the Moore area, they have had a lot of tragedy there, and you know, school safety and your child’s safety is everyone’s No. 1 priority,” said Dusty Torrey.

Torrey is the superintendent of Locust Grove Public Schools. The school district has moved away from traditional school buildings to a more storm-proof building -- domes.

There are nine different domes throughout the school district, including the high school and the elementary school.

“See it’s about six inches of concrete, then you’ve got a shock creek, which is softer material there, and then you’ve got the brick. You can imagine this being on all the exterior walls,” said Torrey, showing the material that lines the top of the domes in the school.

Locust Grove began converting their schools to domes in 2006. Domes have proven to be more storm resistant and safe, thanks to their circular structure and durability.

“The round structure, straight-line winds bounce off and are diverted,” said Torrey.

Torrey said it’s not unusual for him to get a call from a school official in Oklahoma or surrounding states, asking about the domes.

“The last couple years I’ve seen a lot of domes constructed right in this area,” said Torrey.

During July, straight-line winds and a strong storm rolled into Locust Grove.

“Trees blown down and everything,” said Torrey.

However, the domes remained intact and untouched, said Torrey.

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