Tornado shelters on WSC campus

Kadra Sommersted, Staff Writer

Wayne State College has multiple shelters across campus in case of a tornado.

“What we have on campus, we have actually one shelter on campus that’s rated by ICC-500 to code,” said Jason Mrsny, security manager for Wayne State College. “That’s in the basement of the library.”

He said the weather shelter was built during the upgrade of the library, making it technically the only up-to-code tornado shelter on campus.

“Across the campus in our residence halls and in academic buildings, one thing that we are looking into and I’m researching right now, is the signage of what we would consider or call a severe weather shelter or something along those lines,” said Mrsny.

He said that if a shelter is called a tornado shelter, then it has to be up to code for tornadoes or high-winds, and currently the library is the only place housing one on campus.

“What we say for severe weather is – as an example obviously with tornadoes – inner rooms away from windows such as a bathroom, inner corridors such as a hallway, under a stairwell, anything away from glass,” said Mrsny.

He said the buildings on campus don’t have what are called “true basements” in them.

“Some do have a basement in them, but they are full of equipment such as steam lines, electrical lines, things of that nature,” said Mrnsy. “They’re not really what we would consider a space that we would put people into.”

He said that people can get there, but there are other things they’d have to get around to do that.

“It’s kind of interesting because I teach on the fourth floor of a building which is probably farther away than many of the classrooms on campus are from the shelter area in our building,” Michael Marek professor of mass communication said.

He said that in most cases, during class, they figure out about storm warnings in multiple ways. Teachers stop class and direct students where to go with the assumption that they don’t know.

“What they have us do is stay in the hallway,” said Marek. “In our past drills they have just had everybody gather in the hallway, which again is protected. It’s not an area that has windows, there are at least two doors on either end of the hall and several walls on each side.”

Just like in the academic buildings the residence halls have places to go.

“We have our res halls, which have lower levels, lower-inner hallways and those areas are where we would recommend to go to during a high-wind storm or a tornado,” said Mrsny.

He said the most important idea is to get away from windows.

“Bowen is a structure that is brought up quite a bit,” said Mrsny. “If you’re familiar with Bowen – the ground level has glass all around it – in that building, what we would recommend is getting to the lower floors – such as lobbies one and a half, two and a half – and getting either into the bathrooms, which all the bathrooms in that building are in the center-core of the building, and then also the inner hallways away from the windows.”

He said that there is also some space under the stairwells.

“One thing that I want to do is go back and review our spaces, and label them a little differently as far as safe spaces,” said Mrsny. “That way people can understand a little better of what their options are for sheltering during an event like that.”

Staff are made aware and give directions on where to lead students to shelter.

“The biggest thing I would say is get yourself to safety, whatever it takes,” said Mrsny.

He said to think through of where you will go if you need to seek shelter during a tornado warning.