Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

January 21, 2014

Battling ice, snow, schools run drills for tornadoes

GREENSBURG – As Decatur County schools are responding nearly daily to snow and ice emergencies, they are preparing and running drills for severe weather of another kind: tornados.

Greensburg Community Schools ran a severe weather drill Monday, and Bruce Copple, school resource officer, said he was pleased with the results.

“We’re in good shape on our (response to) severe weather,” he said.

Greensburg officials know from experiences nearly two years ago, when their sectional basketball match was delayed and nearly canceled when severe weather threatened to bear down on the local high school. Thankfully that weather pattern turned away from the Greensburg area — though it later produced a devastating tornado in Henryville.

Every year, school officials walk through the corporation’s buildings with firefighters, police officers and other emergency responders to make sure that all parties know of updated safety plans and to address any potential problems, Copple said.

The local high school hosts lots of tournaments, and about five days before the Henryville tornado weather was moving toward south-central Indiana, Copple said local officials brought in experts to figure out whether the high school could shelter the up to 5,000 visitors who were expected to attend the sectional game. Authorities had buses standing by in the parking lot to prepare for a potential evacuation of the gymnasium, because the school did not have enough capacity to shelter everyone during such a large event. Buses were to take some of the spectators to other nearby shelters.

During inspections around that time, authorities also eliminated some areas as primary shelters, including the band hallway, which is a hallway north of the auditorium, because a steal beam above the hallway might, in a collapse, pose danger to people who were sheltered there. A teacher’s lounge also was eliminated as a primary shelter because of the proximity to pool chemicals.

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