Eastern Idaho schools preparing for natural disasters

POSTED: 06:51 PM MDT Sep 13, 2013 
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Idaho -

Eastern Idaho school districts are preparing for natural disasters despite a report from a nonprofit group that said Idaho does not require schools or day cares to have disaster plans.

The Gem State is one of four states that has no requirement, according to the group Save the Children.

Local News 8's and Eyewitness News Reporter Christina Jensen looked into the Jefferson County and Sugar-Salem school districts. Jefferson County has several plans in place. Four of the its plans are recommended by a national commission on children and disasters. Those four plans are: evacuation and relocation, reuniting a child with his or her family, a plan for kids with special needs and a K-12 multiple disaster plan. Sugar-Salem School District has the first three.

The Gem State is not prone to tornadoes and hurricanes. Idaho has disasters of it's own, like the Teton Dam collapse of 1976.

"About three feet of water filled the hallways," said Kevin Schultz, principal of Sugar-Salem Junior High.

Schultz said to this day, they find residue from the disaster.

"You will find little nooks and cranies that will have a little mud residue," he said.
Schultz is also district safety coordinator.

"Regardless of the Teton Dam we want to be prepared for any sort of situation that comes along and threatens our schools in particular," Schultz said.

He said what threats he is worried about.

"The ldaho National Laboratory, if they were to have an emergency situation or leakage, we are right in that zone," Schultz said.

"We're within 75 miles of Yellowstone National Park. If you have anything seismic going on there, somewhat like a Mount Saint Helens, we are definitely within that zone," he said.

Meanwhile, Jefferson County School District has about 30 plans in place.

"An earthquake, a tornado, any of those scenarios have a different response, and so we have different plans in place for different situations," said Ron Tullman, superintendent of Jefferson County.

Tullman also said the district updates and practices the plans yearly. Sugar-Salem also updates its plans yearly. Schultz said he would like to add more plans, but money is stopping him. The district uses its own money to hold practice drills.

Twenty-two states require their schools implement the four types of disaster plans. Twenty-four states require some of them. Idaho, Iowa, Kansas and Michigan are the only states that don't require any of them.