Weatherford Democrat

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May 23, 2013

TORNADO DRILL: Schools monitor weather, practice safety

By DAVID MAY

Monday’s killer tornado in Moore, Okla., showed that reliable shelter above ground is hard to come by when Mother Nature’s biggest and most powerful cyclone sweeps across the ground. That includes school buildings.

The deaths of seven children in the demolished Plaza Towers Elementary School has worried parents and officials to the point that, with the threat of severe and tornadic weather on Tuesday, several North Texas school districts dismissed students by midday.

Area residents not only had pictures and videos of the destruction in Central Oklahoma fresh on their minds, but also last week’s deadly tornadoes that swept across North Texas – 16 confirmed by the National Weather Service – including EF-4 and EF-3 tornadoes that struck Hood and Johnson counties.

Parker County had several tornado warnings during the May 15 outbreak, and spotters and video captured one twister as it damaged several structures in the Millsap area. Though not large in scale compared to the Oklahoma and Hood and Johnson County tornadoes, it still had the potential to cause damage and even death.

Tornadoes were also believed to caused damage to an area of Tin Top Road south of Weatherford while rotation and a possible funnel cloud was also spotted in the Annettas area.

Local school officials contacted say they closely monitor developing weather situations, and students go through drills in the event of an actual emergency. Not much has changed in how schools still instruct students to take cover during a tornado – in interior hallways and rooms away from glass, hunkered down and covering their heads for protection.

“Our hearts go out to the families in Granbury, Cleburne and Oklahoma,” said Millsap ISD Superintendent David Belding. “While the storm we had in Millsap last week was difficult, the devastation in Oklahoma breaks our hearts. When the tornado went through Millsap last week, we were fortunate that no one was seriously hurt. The response by the Millsap VFD, Mr. (Larry) Walden (county commissioner) and his staff and our school district staff was excellent as we all worked closely together to ensure communication and service.”

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