N. Putnam prepares for tornado awareness

Saturday, March 3, 2007

North Putnam Community School Corporation will be conducting tornado drills next week in conjunction with Indiana's Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Gov. Mitch Daniel has proclaimed Sunday, March 4 to Saturday, March 10 as "Severe Weather Awareness Week."

The National Weather Services, in cooperation with the Department of Education, state and local Homeland Security units, state and local police, other public groups and units of governments, will conduct a state wide severe weather/tornado drill

Typically schools conduct these drills during the day. However, North Putnam will take it a step further and conduct drills at the end of the school day that will involve the school buses.

Because of these drills, bus dismissal will be delayed 15-20 minutes while the schools conduct the drills. "We plan to take two days to conduct these drills. One day we'll focus on the two elementary schools. The other day, the drill will be conducted at the middle and high schools," Assistant Supt. Kevin Emsweller said.

According to the National Weather Service, "tornadoes can occur any time of day or night, any time of the year. In Indiana, peak tornado occurrences are from April to June and between 3-8 p.m."

"We have been finding this true," Emsweller said. "Last year, we had a couple of severe storm warnings last spring, close to dismissal time and when we had buses on the road. A year ago, in November, a tornado warning was issued just as we were beginning to dismiss the buses."

Students were kept at school for more than an hour until the storm passed.

After that incident, North Putnam school personnel looked at what went right and what needed to be changed. A major concern was the evacuation of the buses and moving a large number of students to the school's designated safe areas.

"This is something we want to see if the changes we are making to our procedures will work. This will be the second year for us to conduct this type of drill," Emsweller said.

The National Weather Service has also established an evening drill exercise between 7-7:30 p.m. Parents are encouraged to practice appropriate severe weather procedures at home with their families.

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