Lamar County praises emergency plan after tornado

Lamar County praises emergency plan after tornado
Damage to a mobile unit at Purvis Upper Elementary./Photo credit: WDAM viewer

PURVIS, MS (WDAM) - Students and faculty at Purvis Upper Elementary acted quickly when a tornado approached their school Thursday.

They put their emergency plan into action and took cover in the halls.

"We practice our fire drills, our tornado drills, active shooter lock downs, all of them, we try to prepare and practice for any situation that could possibly happen on a school site," Lamar County Superintendent Tess Smith said. "The kids were scared, it was a serious situation but the faculty and students all followed procedures perfectly."

Survey crews from the National Weather Service in Jackson rated the tornado that passed over the school as an EF-1.

The school had some roof damage, a few awnings destroyed and a tree down, but the whole event was a learning experience.

"We'll go back over everything we did, every step that we took and reevaluate it, and see if we could have done anything better and then we will amend that for the next time," Smith said.

The state requires schools to have a set number of drills each calendar year.

"The state requires so many drills and things and we have to keep up with that, its charted on a calendar that we turn in, but when we say we do it, we don't just put it on paper, we actually put those kids in the hallway and practice it and they are aware, it's almost second nature," Smith said.

Lamar County Schools also have a School Crisis Management Team, which is made up of emergency personnel and faculty and staff from around the county.

Lamar County Emergency Management Director James Smith, who serves on that team, echoed the praises for Purvis students.

"We are real intertwined with them on their crisis response and they have a very good plan, a very good system, we've worked hard on that the last couple of years and it showed yesterday," Smith said. "What they did was just above and beyond what they would typically see."