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Baxter Springs Middle School Storm Shelter Locked During Tornado

While many residents in Baxter Springs took cover during the tornado Sunday, some were locked out from getting into a shelter.
BAXTER SPRINGS, KS.--- While many residents in Baxter Springs took cover during the tornado Sunday, some were locked out from getting into a shelter. It was the shelter at the Baxter Springs Middle School. A mother and her six year old son say people tried breaking down the windows to get in the school, all while they were watching the tornado hit the city.

"I still get scared. When I talk about the tornado, what we saw," said Gunner Gilmore, Baxter Springs Resident. 

Alisha Gilmore and her son, Gunner, came to the Baxter Springs Middle School to take cover during the EF-2 tornado that hit Sunday night.  

"We were told this was suppose to be available to us as a general public, outside of school hours. So this was the first place that we came," said Gilmore.

What they saw was panic by other residents trying to get in the locked doors.

"I heard one girl started screaming try and break the windows and so a guy started punching them, nothing happened," said Gilmore. 

"People started screaming, go to their car and my mom said, go to your, go to the car," said Gunner Gilmore.

The Gilmore's drove away safely. Now Alisha wants to know why the school district fell through on its promise.

"Earlier in the week, we knew there was going to be bad weather this day. So I don't understand why it wasn't unlocked in the first place," said Gilmore.  

At a meeting tonight, Superintendent Dennis Burke says a tornado warning wasn't given in a timely manner.

"Person assigned to that was in route out there, he did not make it in time. So several cars, several families went out there, they were not able to enter the building," said Dennis Burke, Baxter Springs Schools Superintendent.  
    
Burke says the school district will put new procedures in place for this type of situation. For now, Alisha and Gunner know they were lucky this time.

"The only thing I really hope that comes out of this is that it doesn't happen again, because it could have been a whole lot worse than what it actually was," said Gilmore.

The two other schools in the school district with shelters, Lincoln Elementary and Central Elementary, were open during the tornado. 

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