Baxter Springs Residents Arrive To Find Locked Storm Shelter

By: KOAM- Posted By Jeremy Goodwin Email
By: KOAM- Posted By Jeremy Goodwin Email
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BAXTER SPRINGS, Kan. (WIBW) -- People in Baxter Springs who looked for cover at the middle school storm shelter arrived to find the doors locked, which seems to fly in the face of the district's policy that all shelters stay open during inclement weather.

"They said this would be a safe place for us and our family to go," said Nicholas Pitts. "Mothers, screaming kids, no one knew what to do."

A new storm is brewing in Baxter Springs after several people were left outside the middle school storm shelter. Nicholas Pitts said his life was in danger when they rushed to the shelter after hearing warning.

"We ran to the side doors, they were locked. We went to a side door, they were locked," recalled Pitts.

More than 20 were waiting outside the doors, locked out of every single entrance and those seeking shelter watched as debris and the storm headed their way.

"I get shaken up every time I talk about it," said Alisha Gilmore.

Gilmore and her 6 year-old son also rushed to the middle school to take shelter, only to find others in the same situation.

"He is still scared and he talks about it every day. He was screaming in the car 'Mommy, you're driving so fast,' but I was just trying to get out of here."

A weather notice on the district website says "In the event of a tornado warning in Baxter Springs, USD 508 will have shelters available to the public after school hours."

"Because of the nature of the storm, our person who opens the middle school was not able to get there in time before the tornado hit," explained USD 508 superintendent Dennis Burke.

He added that they've already made changes.

"We have not already re-evaluated, we've already made the necessary adjustments," he said.

But that's not enough for Gilmore.

"I would like an apology and I thihnk everyone here needs an apology said to them," she said.

"My family was okay, but that was by chance," said Pitts. "It could have been a lot worse."

631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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