Schools Prepare for Tornado - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/30/02 - Tyler

Schools Prepare for Tornado

Wednesday was the first sunny day in East Texas in more than a week. A perfect time for a tornado drill.

The National Weather Service wanted schools in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana to test their storm readiness. Bonner Elementary was one of the many Tyler area schools to join in the fake catastrophy.

Principal Dr. Angeal Nelson says they usually hold two tornado drills in the fall and two more in the spring. "When you're in charge of over 500 students and 50 or 60 faculty employees, you have to know what to do in case of an emergency."

In a fire drill, everybody heads outside. But this time, they're going indoors. Dr. Nelson says one of the schools' problems in a torndao drill is finding enough space for all of the kids.  "It's just like a traffic jam. You know when you go from 4 lanes to 2 lanes down to one lane. And, that's what were' doing. We're coming from different classes and we're all merging on the steps and having to wait and take our turn."

Once inside, the tornado tuck. Duck and cover on the ground floor in windowless rooms. Nelson says the other major difficulty comes from the number of temporary classrooms.  "Half of our school population, probably 250 kids or so, are located in portable buildings. And, we know tornadoes love portable buildings. So, we want to make sure we don't leave them out there."

A few minutes later, the tornado drill is over, and lessons have been learned. Hopefully, these kids will never have to put this training into practice. But, they're ready, just in case.

Stephen Parr, reporting.

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