Nightly News   |  August 17, 2013

Twister-hit Okla. schools still without shelters

Nearly three months after a tornado killed seven children in Moore, Okla., parents question why so many schools still don’t have storm shelters. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> first day of school. last night we introduced you to the legg family, they lost their son christopher at plaza towers elementary. and now they're sending their other children to the only elementary school in town that has a certified shelter. they expressed their anger that all schools aren't protected.

>> frustrated and impatient that something has to be done and that something is taking way too long.

>> and the fact that it took seven children dying in a school before anybody will do anything about it.

>> we asked nbc's gabe gutierrez to look into whether anything will change anytime soon.

>> reporter: in moore , oklahoma , the first week of school normally a time of renewal is this year a reminder.

>> most of the time it doesn't feel like you're going to get through it.

>> reporter: 9-year-old sydney angle was one of the seven children killed at plaza towers elementary when that horrifying ef-5 twister roared through. sydney 's school did not have a storm shelter, and many here in tornado alley have been asking why.

>> it's nothing short of an embarrassment.

>> reporter: only one state, alabama, requires storm shelters but only for new schools. in oklahoma alone, there are almost 1,800 schools but fewer than 200 have shelters. who should be responsible? should it be the federal government ? should it be states? should it be local school districts ?

>> to be honest with you, i think all three.

>> reporter: after another mammoth tornado ripped through moore in 1999 , fema grants helped build this shelter at kelly elementary. in an emergency, steel doors seal off the area, also protected by reinforced concrete.

>> if the federal and state governments would give our districts money to build these, it would be fabulous.

>> reporter: but that's the biggest obstacle, estimates put the cost at more than $1 billion.

>> you can't just wait for government to work.

>> reporter: so state representative john echols has reached outside the legislature to raise private money . s.o.s., the nonprofit group he co-founded has a clear mission -- shelter oklahoma schools. do you think a shelter would have saved sydney ?

>> absolutely.

>> reporter: one by one, the parents of moore 's seven young victims have joined the effort, raising $2 million so far, and channeling their grief.

>> no parent should wonder about their child's safety at school.

>> reporter: into action. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, moore , oklahoma .