Monday, April 28, 2014

Tornadoes and Schools

I am old enough to remember the tornado outbreak in 1974 which changed many people’s lives, including mine, forever. I was a young boy, but can remember it like it was yesterday and for years since then when I hear about a tornado warning I take it very seriously. I have been in public schools for over 25 years and have been in many hallways during a tornado drill. Thankfully, I have never been in a school that has been hit by a tornado, but we have come close a few times.

Everyone in this area can remember April 27, 2011 when we had a horrible outbreak of tornadoes in this area. Our area was devastated and school was out for over a week. The tornadoes did not behave exactly as predicted and we were at school for a large portion of the day. We spent time in the hallways for protection and waiting on parents who were unable to get to the school due to debris in the road. Thankfully everyone at Ardmore was safe and the school was not hit. East Limestone High School and Creekside Elementary School were very close to the path of the tornado but thankfully no students were injured.

There are times in North Alabama when things happen so quickly we are at school when a tornado warning is issued and we will always take our precautions to try and protect the students on our campus. We practice these drills every month and due to the frequency of tornadoes in our area I believe the students take the drills seriously. Obviously, the best answer would be safe shelters for every school, but money has not allowed the state to build shelters on each campus. Maybe one day this will become a reality, but for now the current plans are the best we can do to provide safety at school during a storm.

The weather forecasting is much better than it was in 1974 and many times we know days in advance of the severe weather event and school systems can take precautions to ensure students are not on campus during severe weather. However, April 27 proved that things don’t always go as predicted in terms of severe weather in North Alabama.  I know people will debate forever whether schools should dismiss due to the threat of bad weather, but in my opinion we should always error on the side of caution when it comes to the safety of our children. 

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