Past severe weather helps implement new plan

An EF-5 tornado devastated the small town of Smithville  just over a decade ago

SMITHVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- Severe weather is all too common this time of year; how people prepare for storms is often influenced by whether or not they been through one.

An EF-5 tornado devastated the small town of Smithville  just over a decade ago, and the lessons learned from that experience still affect preparation today

Smithville principal Chad O’Brian was the principal at the time of the tornado and said  he had never expected a storm to reach that magnitude, but he feels that the town learned a lot from the tragedy.

“There’s certain element of a F5 tornado that you can’t prepare for. It’s going to tear things up it’s going to cost lives you can’t prepare for those things, but there are elements we can do such as the storm shelter such as just as much advanced warning as we possibly can and I think the biggest lesson we learned from all that preparedness for these type of events starts well before,” said O’Brian.

Those lessons have are now built into the school’s culture and its emergency procedures.

Students used to go out in the hall, crouch down, and use a book to shield their heads, but Smithville has a more proactive approach; fortunately they have a storm shelter on campus.

“When we dismiss we tell everybody to go to the dome and those procedures range from everywhere. We have certain tracks that we want to certain buildings to take so we’re not walking all over each other on the same sidewalk; certain buildings are to take a certain path to the dome,” said O’Brian.

When the warnings go up, every second counts O’Brian said when they have tornado drills they time how long it takes for everyone to get to the dome, because a big part of his team’s job is to protect other’s loved ones.

“From 7:30 to 3 o’clock everyday we’re handling somebody’s most prized possession and that’s their kids and that just goes along with the territory here that the weather this time of year is something you have to pay attention to,” said O’Brian.

O’Brian encouraged all of Monroe County to stay weather aware and to know that the dome isn’t just for folks in Smithville.

Monroe County Emergency officials encourage all residents to sign up for the free Code Red program.

Categories: Local News