March 14, 2006
Tornadoes can strike any time, not just spring and summer. Twenty-four tornadoes were confirmed in Virginia last year, with four in January.
Tuesday was tornado preparedness day around the state, with tornado drills being issued. Here is one look into Johnson Elementary's experience.
Around 2 p.m., Assistant Principal William Sterrett made an announcement: Code Purple, which meant a tornado watch had been issued. Under careful instructions, students proceeded into the hallways.
"You have a similar approach as the fire drill in which we will announce it, we won't use a bell, we'll announce it, we'll give instructions, that have already been delivered to the students, but again are reminding them to proceed quietly out into the hall way," explained Mr. Sterrett
While this is only a drill, when to send students out into the hallway if the occasion should arise is a decision made not only from the Administration but the school division as well.
"Each situation is context specific. We are going to be getting different reports both from our school division and from the local weathercasts. Depending on the size of the storm, its locality, the speed at which it’s traveling, we're going to take each one carefully," said Mr. Sterrett
Four years ago it was no drill. A tornado came very close to Johnson Elementary, but they were ready.
"The tornado came through our area, but didn't affect this specific location. But we had the students report to the hallways...and they basically they keep their knees up, they protect their heads, they're away from windows and this keeps [them safe] from glass coming in. Four years ago it went without a glitch," beamed Mr. Sterrett,
If you're not sure what to do if a tornado watch or warning is issued, you can log onto the Virginia Department of Emergency Management at www.vaemergency.com for more information or safety tips.