Elementary school remains open despite tornado damage

NEW KENT, VA (WWBT) – Kids are back in school after the tornado passed right over George Watkins elementary in new Kent County Thursday.

Parents were taking their kids to school, and dozens of other students hopped off the bus ready for class. Friday wasn't just any day. The chatter through the halls was all about that tornado that ripped through their community Thursday.

When it comes to Mother Nature's fury, people say one thing's for sure at George Watkins.

"She can't spare New Kent County for some reason," said mother, Tina Bendle.

"I thought the tornado was coming to my house," said her son, Josh.

They hope this is it for a while after the tornado ripped off pieces of the roof, slinging metal sheets high into the trees. Compared to the damage in other parts of New Kent, students like Andrew Davis and Josh Bendle are just glad their school was spared. Davis says he heard the twister roar over his house.

"I was scared," said Davis. "My dad yelled at me to come and told me I needed to get in the bathroom and he just threw pillows on me."it sounded like a freight train but it sounded like a faint one."

Dozens of children also made their way to school with the exception of some in the Woodhaven Shores neighborhood who have excused absences for the day.

"I was like oh my gosh, first the hurricane then no school," Bendle added.

Bendle is glad to hear the roof was the only part that needed repairs. Only about a dozen girl scouts were inside when the storm hit. They found shelter in a hallway. Friday, workers were putting a waterproof cover over the roof. A separate section was just damaged by hurricane Irene.

Even though parents and teachers hope this will be the last big storm for a while, some say they're ready for just about anything Mother Nature throws at them.

The estimated cost of repairs at the school is about $20,000. No other schools in the area had reports of major damage.