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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) – On April 27th, 2011 University Place Middle and Elementary school sustained significant damage. So much damage, that students and staff had to pack up and move to nearby Stillman Heights to continue on with classes for the next two years. However this August, University Place will finally be back at home in the building that was ripped apart by the tornado.
School was dismissed early on April 27th, although school officials feel that University Place students would have been safe, maybe a little wet, if school had not dismissed. The lower part of the school where students would have taken cover was flooded by about 3 inches of water. The entire second floor of the school was ripped apart, in addition to the cafeteria and multi-purpose room. The shell of the school, however, was essentially intact.
Construction teams are putting in 12 hour days to get the building ready for classes in the fall. However, they are also working hard to make the building more safe and weather resistant than ever before. In the past, University Place could withstand winds up to 90 miles per hour. With the improvements to the roof, windows, and walls; the building can now withstand gusts up to 120 miles per hour.
Later this summer, construction will also begin on a stand-alone, multi-purpose room on campus. This safe room will be used exclusively by students and staff during severe weather within the school day, however; when classes are out, anyone in the community can use the safe room.