Statewide tornado drills kick off Severe Weather Week
By Neil B. McGahee
Fifth graders in Mary Fore’s homeroom at Crisp County Elementary joined students across Georgia participating in a statewide tornado drill.
At 9am, Wednesday, Feb. 3, all 3,765 students in six Crisp County schools marched out of their classrooms to a hallway, sat on the floor with backs against a wall and covered their heads.
“PrepareAthon,” a statewide tornado drill was held by the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) to coincide with Severe Weather Preparedness Week and encourage Georgians to prepare now for future severe weather.
Following a terse announcement over the school’s p.a. system by Principal Carla Googe, warning of severe weather approaching, the nearly 500 students, their teachers and school staff proceeded to the hallways.
With backs against the wall, heads down and arms wrapped around their knees, the students held the position until an all clear signal was announced
“’Severe Weather Preparedness Week’ is February 1-5,” said Crisp County Schools Superintendent Cindy Hughes. “Today’s statewide tornado drill was to educate and prepare our students for the threat of severe weather. With the chance of tornadoes increasing during the coming spring months, this drill ensures that our students, faculty and staffs are prepared.”
Googe said the students at Crisp Elementary conduct a drill monthly — either tornado or fire — to prepare students for such an emergency.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said 1,022 confirmed tornados were reported in the United States in 2020, with 60 in Georgia.
GEMA/HS urged all Georgians to take some time and prepare, plan and stay informed about tornadoes with these tips:
- Make a “Ready Kit” for at least three days of self-sufficiency.
- Familiarize yourself with the terminology used to identify a tornado hazard. A tornado watch means weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. A tornado warning means either a tornado is occurring or expected to develop shortly in your area and you need to take shelter immediately.
- Determine in advance where you will take shelter during a tornado. Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.
- If an underground shelter is not available, an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible is the best option.
- In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.