In preparation for the potential severe weather that could strike in the upcoming season, all schools across the state and county will be participating in a tornado drill, allowing the staff and students a chance to practice their emergency plans.
On Wednesday morning, at 9:30 a.m., school and government officials will practice the statewide tornado drill, allowing the schools and government officials a chance to practice plans for emergency situations. The Emergency Alert System will broadcast when the drill is happening, and the governor encourages everyone who can, to participate.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has declared March 6-12 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week, as the beginning of severe weather season starts to threaten the area. The governor is cautioning North Carolinians to practice safety during thunderstorms and tornadoes. March through May are the peak season for tornadoes across North Carolina.
“Severe thunderstorms can strike quickly and spawn dangerous winds and tornadoes,” McCrory said in a press release issued by his office. “Despite the snow, sleet and freezing rain over the past few weeks, we are now entering the peak severe storm season, and we need to prepare and practice what to do when severe weather occurs. It’s critical to have emergency plans in place, put together an emergency supply kit and listen for weather alerts.”
Local school officials are actively taking part in the drill, as both systems were affected by the potential of severe weather and tornadoes just two weeks ago, prompting school officials to close schools early, getting students home and buses off the roadways before high winds hit the area and before the chance of tornadoes became a definite.
“Clinton City Schools is fortunate to not have any recent weather emergencies, however we realize that we can never be too prepared,” superintendent Dr. Stuart Blount said. “The statewide drill provides an opportunity for our students and staff to practice the tornado drill, prior to an actual emergency situation. Safety is always a top priority for our students, and personnel. Practicing emergency preparedness in our schools is vital.”
Sampson County Schools superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy reiterated the importance of informing students about proper safety measures to take during severe situations.
“We consider it a part of our responsibility to educate students about actions to take in severe weather,” Bracy said. “As we have experienced, weather can take a devastating toll on communities. When our students participate in drills and receive safety instructions, they pass along this knowledge to their families.”
During this week, the importance of planning and practicing how and where to take shelter before severe weather strikes is being highlighted. Being prepared, emergency officials say, can be a matter of life and death.
Last year in North Carolina there were nine tornadoes, 133 incidents of flash flooding and almost 550 severe thunderstorms with strong winds or hail. In all, these severe weather events caused more than $12 million in damage.
During the case of a live tornado, emergency officials urge residents to seek shelter and go inside a sturdy building, stay away from windows, as wind can cause damage, go to the lowest floor of the structure and into an inside room with no windows and remember that lightening remains a threat until 30 minutes after the rain stops.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.