NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — This Thursday will mark the four year anniversary of the strongest December tornado ever recorded in North Texas.
On the night after Christmas 2015, an EF-4 tornado killed eight people. Now, one of the biggest tornado shelters in North Texas is coming to life.
Smithfield Middle School in the Birdville School District is getting a new gym that can hold 1,000 people at a time.
“It’ll be nice to have our own place. When we celebrate our kids, we can celebrate our kids on our campus,” Principal Kyle Pekurney said. “But this is not just any gym… This one is the first of its kind.”
Officials said the new gym will be able to withstand F5 tornadoes.
Mark Thomas of Birdville ISD said there is a 20-30% cost to it but it’s worth it at the end of the day.
“As a parent or grandparent, I want to know if there is a storm coming through, there is a safe place for my children to go,” Thomas said.
74 pieces of precast concrete were delivered from Oklahoma City and put together like a giant lego kit. The process started four days earlier.
Building Supervisor Robert Cortez said the building should be finished Tuesday.
Thanks to a new bond package passed in 2018, all BISD schools will get storm shelters. Most will be distributed across the campus, but for this 45-year-old building… that wasn’t possible.
“It’s a message that the community sends that, ‘Hey, safety and security for our kids is important,’ and they invested in that,” Pekurney said.