Is Your School Storm Ready?

From our talks to East Texas school children throughout the year, it is pretty clear that most schools have a plan in place for dangerous weather situations.

I recently sat down with the person responsible for severe weather prepreadness at Lufkin I.S.D.. one of the largest school districts in our area to discuss severe weather preparedness and schools. Morty Halyard, Director of Support Services told me, "Overall we are in pretty good shape. Fortunately, we haven't had to experience that first hand, but via the drills and communication with staff, we are in pretty good shape."

Is that true for all schools in our area? To find out, we surveyed schools around East Texas about their severe weather plans. We received responses from 40 different schools. All schools said they had plans in place and practiced tornado drills at least twice a year. That is good news, but we have to ask the question: How do they receive word that severe weather may be headed toward their school?

The National Weather Service says the best way for a school to receive weather warnings is via a NOAA Weather Radio with a battery back-up in case the power goes out. A weather radio sounds an alert as soon as a warning is issued by the National Weather Service.

We talked with one local principal about how she makes sure her school receives weather warnings. Marsha Glynn, principal at Dunbar Primary School in Lufkin said, "We have several ways to check things out and keep abreast of what's happening outside. First of all, we do have a weather radio that's on constantly on a low tone in the office and we stay in touch with the superentindent's office."

Unfortunately, not all schools have a NOAA Weather Radio.  From the schools we surveyed, 40%said they did not have a weather radio. Of those schools, many said they relied on the internet or telephone calls for weather information. Those can be good sources, but if the power were to go out, those schools may be out of luck and their children could be in danger.