Mayflower is no stranger to severe weather, specifically tornadoes.
The elementary school unveiled a second storm shelter this morning they hope will keep kids and the entire community safe. But this new safe room is more than just a safe place, it's a symbol of resilience.
"I don't think many people have storm shelters,” third grade student, Ava Baughn said.
“We still have students who are traumatized based on their experience of living through that,” Principal Candie Watts said.
The small town of Mayflower was hit by tornadoes in 2012 and 2014. The 2014 EF-4 storm affected 160 residents.
"60 of those were children who attended the Mayflower School District,” Watts said.
At the time, the community only had one storm shelter located at the middle school.
Now they have a second one in hopes of offering a safe place and saving lives.
“My husband was out on the porch and told it was coming our way, so we got in the closet. That was our only place to go at the time,” former school board President, Sheriley Holland said.
The storm shelter will be open to students and staff first, then the community.
“The shelter is 3,000 square feet and by FEMA standards, will hold 450 people,” Watts said.
Mayflower Elementary currently has about 430 students. Some may now be safer at school than at their own homes.
“It makes me feel really happy. When we were on our way to my uncle's house, we could see the tornado and I was really scared. We live close to the school so that makes it better,” Baughn said.
Those who live in Mayflower all agree that working together has helped the community come out of both storms stronger than before.
“Our community is a very strong community and we're hoping they utilize this in a big way,” Holland said.
The United Way donated $10,000 for the building of the storm shelter, Representative Doug House donated $70,000 and FEMA provided a grant worth over $500,000.
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