Expert says Red Oak school wall shouldn't have collapsed in tornado

Red Oak ISD’s Shields Elementary School was badly damaged when an EF 3 tornado hit the area the day after Christmas. But an engineer and meteorologist, who served as a consultant for the National Weather Service, says the winds that hit the building were only the force of an EF 1 tornado.

He believes the 7-year-old building should have been able to handle the winds instead of falling to the ground.

“The whole wall came out, was lying on the ground in whole, almost as if you could pick it up and put it back in its place again,” said Tim Marshall.

Marshall said the wall was essentially free standing and the school's walls were not properly attached to the foundation, roof or each other.

His first reaction was to call the construction horrific.

“When you get there and see the walls have fallen like a house of cards, I'm aghast by it," Marshall said.

Marshall said he's concerned because the next time a tornado hits a school with walls like the ones at Shields Elementary, kids could be in the building.

Ratcliff Constructors said in a statement that the company strongly disagrees with the accusations that its methods were inferior.

The president said the company, "firmly believes the D.T. Shields Elementary School was constructed in accordance with the plans and specifications…provided to us."

A photo shows that the wall is all that protected three classrooms. The district said it is asking the same engineering firm that constructed the school to review the construction quality.

FOX4 asked if the district will be looking into the safety of the school's other walls that are still standing.

"We will rely on the professionals that do architecture and engineering to guide us, and follow their opinions, and we'll worry about educating our kids," said Adi Bryant of Red Oak ISD.

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