JOPLIN, MO.--- Unclear directions causes some confusion for residents who were trying to get into Soaring Heights Elementary School's storm shelter for yesterday's storm. Residents who live in a nearby neighborhood receive school newsletters explaining where to enter the shelter, but for someone who lives a few blocks away and doesn't receive those newsletters, school administrators say panic could have contributed to the mix-up.
During a tornado watch, all of the Joplin school shelters open for community members to use for security, but the storm shelters are only accessible through one door. Joplin administrators say there's numerous doors for Soaring Heights Elementary and East Middle School, but the shelter is located behind the elementary. Although there's signs directing people to the south side of the school, Joplin's superintendent tells us they are going to work harder at making it more apparent as to which door residents should use to access the shelter.
"We do have signage out there that directs people towards the safe room, but when you're in panic mode and the tornado sirens are going off, we need to do a better job at clearly identify which door people can come in, but the door was open, the safe rooms were open during that time and people were able to access them," said Dr. C.J. Huff, Joplin School Superintendent.
One resident who is familiar with Soaring Heights tornado shelter tells us she can see how someone could be confused, but she was one of the first to arrive and the volunteer in charge had already opened the doors.
"He was up there, I guess the minute they started saying tornado watch. He was up there with his kids and had the door open and he was already there when we got there," said Brandi Johnson, Joplin Resident.
You can reach the south parking lot from the schools east or west side driveway.