CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia sounded the alarm Tuesday morning, a warning for everyone to be prepared for tornados went out from the National Weather Service to NOAA weather radios at 9:45 am.
The statewide tornado drill happens every year. 10 On Your Side went to a local school that could teach us all a thing or two about what to do in a real emergency.
Great Bridge Intermediate in Chesapeake lived through it two years ago when a tornado tore through the Hickory area.
It caught them off guard, Principal Heather Martin explained.
“It was actually very scary. We practice this every year, but I think the scariest thing happened to be that it happened while we were doing class pictures,” Martin said.
Fifth grade teacher Barbara Murphy remembers, “They said one, two, and as soon as they said three, the lights went out and I said ‘we broke the camera.'”
The tornado damaged dozens of homes in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, and destroyed Real Life Christian Church just seven miles from the school.
“People were a little worried cause it was the real deal,” Martin said, remembering that some of the girls started to cry.
She said the staff learned a few lessons that day. One of them was on dealing with kids’ emotions.
“Our staff did a fabulous job of trying to keep them calm, and as you heard one of our students said, ‘My teacher let me color.'”
They also discovered the benefit of preparing for emergencies outside the classroom. For instance, they never did drills while kids were in the cafeteria, because it just wasn’t practical.
“We now have practiced even lock down drills while students are in the cafeteria.” Martin said as she pointed out that you never know when or where the next tornado will hit.
There were 31 tornados in Virginia last year. When a tornado warning sounds, everyone should take cover. Go to an interior room away from windows on the lowest level of the house or building.