Devastation in Oklahoma: School safety concerns - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Devastation in Oklahoma: School safety concerns

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The small town of Moore, OK is a landscape of flattened homes and debris after being hit by an EF-5 tornado, with winds of at least 200 miles an hour.

The search for the dead and for survivors is nearly complete. The number of dead stands at 24, including at least nine children. Hundreds of people were injured.

Among the most horrifying scenes in the vast destruction were two elementary schools, which took direct hits from the twister - taking some of the youngest lives in this tragedy, but sparing others. 

The storm ripped off the roof and knocked down walls, as students and teachers huddled in hallways and bathrooms.  

Tornado watches and warnings are common in Virginia -- and the images from Oklahoma are a brutal reminder of the need to be prepared. 

When bad weather rolls in, parents want to make sure their children are out of harm's way. Laveena Issa is a mother and a kindergarten teacher at New Deliverance Christian Academy.  

"It's the reason why my son is here," said Issa. "It's because I know that they do have a safety plan." 

During weather emergencies students will file into this hallway or stairwell in the safest part of the building.  

When that alarm goes off, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management urges all schools - including new deliverance - to practice a tornado drill each march to prepare for disasters that could approach unexpectedly.

 "We make sure they go through the process of what they would do if a tornado happened - take shelter, go to the locations where they are supposed to in their facilities and make sure they would for a real tornado warning," Public Affairs Director, Bob Spieldenner.

Teams at the Emergency Operations Center in chesterfield practiced responding to a mock earthquake. They answered calls and sent out mutual aid to victims - similar to what they'd do in any disaster. This comes during a sobering time for parents like Issa - who thinks of her babies every time she sees these images on her screen.  

"It definitely gets my nerves because you send your child to school thinking they'll be safe," said Issa. "You don't think of what mother will bring to us but all you can hope and pray for is they'll be okay." 

I checked with school systems in the Richmond-Metro area. Even though VDEM requires one tornado drill a year, many schools practice several just to be safe.  

It's just as important to be prepared at home -- to have a plan "before" severe weather threatens.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management offers a number of ways to make sure people are safe: http://www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/stayinformed

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

  • Latest news from NBC12.comNEWSMore>>

  • Victim identified in deadly triple stabbing in Richmond

    Victim identified in deadly triple stabbing in Richmond

    Sunday, July 23 2017 12:33 PM EDT2017-07-23 16:33:05 GMT

           Richmond police are working a death investigation after three women are stabbed overnight in the city's northside.        The stabbing happened just after midnight in the 3500 block of North Avenue.        Police aren't telling us much -- but can confirm three women were stabbed, and one of them died from their injuries.       As for the other two victims -- on...

    More >>

           Richmond police are working a death investigation after three women are stabbed overnight in the city's northside.        The stabbing happened just after midnight in the 3500 block of North Avenue.        Police aren't telling us much -- but can confirm three women were stabbed, and one of them died from their injuries.       As for the other two victims -- on...

    More >>
  • Man shot to death in Petersburg

    Man shot to death in Petersburg

    Sunday, July 23 2017 11:09 AM EDT2017-07-23 15:09:48 GMT
    Police are in the beginning stages of a homicide investigation, after a man is found shot to death in Petersburg Sunday morning. Officers say they were called to the 2700 block of South Crater Road, around 2 a.m. When they got to the scene, police say they found a man, who had been shot multiple times. That man, 53-year-old Samuel Gee, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police continue to investigate, and say they're speaking to witnesses who were present during the shooting. If...More >>
    Police are in the beginning stages of a homicide investigation, after a man is found shot to death in Petersburg Sunday morning. Officers say they were called to the 2700 block of South Crater Road, around 2 a.m. When they got to the scene, police say they found a man, who had been shot multiple times. That man, 53-year-old Samuel Gee, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police continue to investigate, and say they're speaking to witnesses who were present during the shooting. If...More >>
  • Former Dinwiddie County sheriff passes away

    Former Dinwiddie County sheriff passes away

    Saturday, July 22 2017 10:35 PM EDT2017-07-23 02:35:48 GMT
    Dusty Rhodes (Source: NBC12)Dusty Rhodes (Source: NBC12)

    According to a Dinwiddie official, Dusty Rhodes passed away at his home on Saturday.

    More >>

    According to a Dinwiddie official, Dusty Rhodes passed away at his home on Saturday.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly