Originally created 02/20/03

Storm drill tests pupils



Dozens of children filed out of their classrooms and sought shelter in the hallways of North Columbia Elementary School in Appling on Wednesday as part of a statewide severe-weather drill.

The drill was held as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, which continues through Saturday.

"We practiced, just like we have tornado drills in the past," said Elizabeth Harley, the assistant principal of North Columbia. "We heard the watch and then, when the warning came, we got the children away from windows and had them kneel against the wall in the hallway."

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency modified the exercises, formerly tornado drills, this year to include all severe weather.

"There are more people killed in severe thunderstorms in Georgia each year than from tornadoes," said Greg A. Padgett, a GEMA state hurricane coordinator. "Tornadoes get all the publicity because of all the damage they can cause, but thunderstorms occur with much more frequency. More people die each year of lightning strikes than they do from tornadoes."

Wind gusts from a severe thunderstorm can reach 80 mph, Mr. Padgett said.

"That could do a lot of damage to one of the portable classrooms outside a school. With a drill for severe weather, not just tornadoes, we can show schools, and everyone else, what to do in those situations and keep safe."

Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said her office is collecting drill reports from Columbia County government agencies, participating businesses and others. The reports will be used to identify problems with the drill.

WHAT IS IT?

Wednesday's statewide severe-weather drill was conducted as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Georgia. The activities are designed to educate the public on issues of preparedness and safety in the event of severe weather.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 109, or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.