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Atoka safe room project begins bidding process

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With safe rooms planned at both the elementary school and the new town hall complex, Atoka will soon be the safest place to be during a tornado. 

Neither project is yet under construction, but officials say the time is nearing. 

"We've begun the bidding process to build six tornado safe rooms at Atoka Elementary," said Dr. Charlotte Fisher, Tipton County Schools director of operations. 

In the event that Atoka is tornado-warned during school hours, the safe rooms will accommodate the nearly 1,000 students and staff members, she said. 

When school is not in session, the safe rooms will be able to shelter 1,200 members of the community. 

Fisher said construction on the grant-funded project is set to begin this summer and will conform to the Federal Emergency Management Association's P-361 standards, meaning the safe rooms will withstand winds up to 250 miles per hour. 

On Monday morning, the school housed students being transported from the Atoka area to Brighton schools while the area was under a tornado warning. 

"(Bus drivers) actually took them into those buildings," she said, noting that students and staff members are trained on what to do during an emergency weather situation. "They're accustomed to doing this because we practice this." 

Deadly storms Sunday and Monday affected Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Tennessee east of Tipton County. 

Fisher said the construction of safe rooms at other schools, which could shelter the public, has been considered, but it dependent upon grant funding. 

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