What Schools Do During a Tornado

When a tornado approaches, no matter its size, you don't forget. " The tornado came this way, it hopped over the building and then it landed right back there," recalled Karan Stewart. It's been eight years, but the Raguet Elementary school teacher easily recalls the frightening experience.

Fortunately, no one was hurt. A blessing since schools didn't have the weather warnings that they have today. A Skywarn coordinator uses detailed radar pictures and weather spotters in the attempt to predict tornadoes. Kent Tannery with Nacogdoches County Skywarn said, " Even though you see something that's approaching the county, it's still an uncertainty."   But when one is spotted an outdoor sirens are sounded. The blaring signal is to alert people outdoors to take cover. Nacogdoches Emergency Management Coordinator Tommy Wheeler said,  " We have 10 sirens that are strategically placed throughout the city to cover all the city."

In addition, almost every school in the state has a weather radio, donated by the National Weather Service.   Nacogdoches Independent School District Police Chief Doug Ploch said,  " If it goes to tornado warning, meaning one of them has been spotted, then you go into your actual drill." Following procedure, children are sent to interior hallways until the warning is lifted.

The teachers and students at Raguet had no advance notice, but knew the drill. Derinda Slone recalled,  " The kids were great. They tucked and ducked and they did all that they needed to do quietly."  Without warnings whatsoever students and teachers relied on their instinct. They know today awareness is a wonderful defense in bad weather situations. Stewart said,  " Now we have those fire alarms or those alarms that are just ear piercing and the lights. We had nothing. Nothing went off and everybody knew just what to do."