TODAY

TODAY   |  August 12, 2013

Families of Okla. tornado victims push for shelters

Relatives of the seven schoolchildren who died in Moore, Okla. after a tornado hit their elementary school are pushing for storm shelters for every school in the state. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>> new push in oklahoma to put storm shelters in every school . it's being lead by the parents of children that were skilled in may's devastating tornado in moore , oklahoma . gabe gutierrez is there with the story. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. students in moore preparing to head back to school on friday. but as they deal with the pain of what happened here nearly three months ago a debate is raging over how to make sure that students across tornado alley are safe. when the tornado sliced through moore on that frightening may afternoon, residents took cover, but some couldn't escape.

>> nothing feels like it's supposed to.

>> reporter: dan and nicole still can't escape.

>> i don't know how to call a place a home without her.

>> reporter: their 9-year-old daughter was one of the seven killed at the elementary school when the twister rolled through.

>> does it make you angry?

>> absolutely. every day, all day angry.

>> reporter: the school did not have storm shelters and many here have been asking why.

>> do you think a shelter would have saved sidney?

>> absolutely.

>> it is not a question of if tornadoes will come. it say question of when.

>> reporter: local attorney john hunt is trying to come up with an answer. he brought together volunteers to raise private money forming a nonprofit organization called shelter oklahoma schools, sos.

>> our goal is to put a shelter in every oklahoma school . there's over 1600 schools in oklahoma without shelters and we need to change that.

>> reporter: the biggest obstacle, cost. hunt estimates the price tag would be upwards of $1 billion. since may, questions swirled about who should be responsible? the federal government ? states? or local districts already strapped for cash? school official ss say it should be all three plus donors.

>> all that matters is that the students are safe and we provide the safe structures for them.

>> many relatives are channelling their grief into sos raising more than $2 million so far.

>> no parent should wonder about their child's safety at school with weather. something like a tornado it shouldn't -- it shouldn't take kids. they're supposed to be safe at school .

>> reporter: still sos has an uphill battle. since 1999 with another massive tornado tore through moore , fema grants funded the construction of 1300 safe rooms across the country, but only one state, alabama, requires storm shelters. and that's only for new schools.

>>> gabe, thank you very much.