School Officials Sheltering Children in the Gymnasium

I am appalled and angered at the fact that the officials in Enterprise High School sheltered the children in the gymnasium, causing scores of injuries and even possible fatalities.

I would think with all the education that is available these days via internet and other sources that they should simply know better. It is negligent homicide in my opinion, if that is where they put the children for shelter and in fact there were deaths.

I am angered because I cannot see how in their right mind they could possibly think a gymnasium is shelter. When I was little, our elementary school correctly had us huddle in the hallways, the safest place.

I would hope beyond hope that any other school district that practices this sort of "shelter" immediately changes their procedure. This is simply unnaceptable. If I was a parent, I would certainly be beyond outraged.

NOTE: If this belongs in B&G please move.
I absolutely makes me SICK to hear that they took them to the Gym. I just saw on the NBC station that the 8 deaths WERE confirmed at the high school.

I don't know about all you guys, but I am calling our local schools next week during Texas Severe Weather Awareness week and finding out EXACTLY what the tornado drill format is.
its very sad and upsetting as well. But after watching some of the live tv from down there I guess I am not so surprised either. Its just not like it is in the plains where most everyone in a position to help the public (tv mets and the like) do indeed help the public but those guys were clueless. I guess we are seeing some of the answer to that question of why more people die in tornadoes down there.
On cnn it said,

"Students at Enterprise High School were taking cover in the hallways when the twister hit the building."

So obviously there's conflicting reports.
I know I'll be crossing the line when I say this, and it may not be right for me to say it. So I'll apologize in advance. And this is after reading the Chase Report section about what everyone was talking about the school situation and I wish to add it here to comply with the Chase rules.

But I've seen a similiar scenario before. Thankfully when I witness it, nothing was going on and it was only a drill. But, when I was still in high school, our school administration took us between the main library and the cafeteria in the main hallway. Now in my school, the library walls are nothing but a pain of glass. And behind us, the cafeteria was behind us.

I even muttered loud enough in front of those administrators (I am suprised they didn't hear me) how stupid they were. I told my friend "You may as well count me as a casuailty because we're good as dead here."

After it was over, I wrote a long letter to the director of safety for my school exclaiming how unsafe I felt, leaving my safety in their hands. From that day forward, I don't trust anyone with my safety except myself.

My point is, and I am not saying this about the school administration because I wasn't there and I don't know what happened. But the administration may not even bothered with the severe weather thinking "Oh it will go around us. It hasn't never hit here, why now?" Its the feeling "nothing will happen to us" scenario. I am just hope I am wrong in it.

I graduated high school in 2001. It was my senior year when we were put in that hallway for that drill. And I will never forget that as long as I live. But I think it maybe time for anyone who has a kid in school anywhere prone to tornadoes to ask how safe are their kids?

Again I apologize head of time, because this may not be the time to talk about this here.
My sources were a FOX affiliate that reported this news. If indeed they were sheltering in the hallways, good for them, however, this is what was reported earlier. Although I do not like to post things that later turn out innacurate, In this case, I would be very relieved to find out what I heard was wrong.
I'm not entirely sure yet Jeff. I was just wanting one report that had a picture supposedly taken in the gym of rescue workers pulling kids out.

At any was only 2 or 3 years ago I learned of some local schools that was still having the kids open the windows before taking cover in the halls.

This is just a good reminder to follow up on local schools policies and take steps to try and get them changed if they are unsound.
I just heard on the Weather Channel that officals think this maybe an EF3 or EF5. And they also showed the Supercell that formed which formed suprisingly fast. Still a sad scenario all the way around.
Listening to CNn and Fox and they are now saying it wasnt the gym but the auditorium in the middle of the school. Not alot of difference. It is still a wide open roof area without support. Would be just as bad as the gym or a place like walmart. You need alot of walls and supports and the smallest roof area possible. To gather the entire student body into an auditorium is wreckless if not criminal neglegence. I blame not only the school officials but local DEM officials for not going over disaster plans with those school officials. The DEM should help create those plans and they should all know the best/worst places to take shelter. There was no reason for anybody to die. Here in Amarillo our DEM is right there in the plannaing of any kind of emergency the schools may face. From fire to tornado to shootings and the officials know where to put the kids. Our DEM even helps create plans for places like the mall and walmarts in town. They even have little signs up showing where to go in case of tornado.

Looking at the damage I saw brick structures missing roofs and 2-3 walls and cars tossed around like toys. Initial assessment would be strong F3 to weak F4. We should know tomorrow.
1) We don't have all the facts, so passing blame based on early news reports is WAY wrong...

2) You are blaming the EMA of that city, when you don't have the slightest idea of their setup... Maybe the city doesn't have an EMA director because of budget needs, or maybe it was a position filled by a friend of the mayor with no EM knowledge, or maybe it was a professional who sat down with the school and spelled out detailed plans and they weren't followed.

Not saying that there will be blame to pass around, just don't do it based on what you saw on TV. No school building is going to take a major tornado without something happening to students, so hard to say "no reason for anyone to die." We can be perfect in prediction and response and people will still die.

- Rob

PS F-Scale is gone, it's EF now.
There will be a rush to say this is a Ef5 from the media because of the death toll. That being said, Plainfield High school after it was hit by the F5 was completely redesigned to help prevent flying debris from coming down the hallways

there were some pictures of bare foundations, dont know where it was from and what the buildings were however.

we are all shocked about this but outside of people like us, it is not well known. remember how long it took to dispell the myth of underpasses being safe durning a tornado, even after the Moore F5.

and has been said before, if this does turn out to be a strong/violent tornado (leaning towards strong), the only safe place would be is underground. Maybe all new school should be built with a basement.

There is also reports of them letting the kids leave at 1, maybe there was so much confusion since the storm was on them that that is the reason the people died. If the reports of this turn out to be true, there has to be some serious work down in making sure school administrators MAKE SURE kids do not leave the school till the threat is over. Every school ive been to has done this.
Last edited by a moderator:
"There will be a rush to say this is a Ef5 from the media"

I've never heard news anchors declare F-scale ratings in the past, and since NWS offices can't make that declaration I don't think it would happen now...
1) We don't have all the facts, so passing blame based on early news reports is WAY wrong...

2) You are blaming the EMA of that city, when you don't have the slightest idea of their setup... Maybe the city doesn't have an EMA director because of budget needs, or maybe it was a position filled by a friend of the mayor with no EM knowledge, or maybe it was a professional who sat down with the school and spelled out detailed plans and they weren't followed.

Not saying that there will be blame to pass around, just don't do it based on what you saw on TV. No school building is going to take a major tornado without something happening to students, so hard to say "no reason for anyone to die." We can be perfect in prediction and response and people will still die.

- Rob

PS F-Scale is gone, it's EF now.

All you have to do is look at the video of the school and where they are pulling out the victims to know that the auditorium was one of the worst places to put the student body. Much of the school including the hallways and most classrooms are still standing. the 2 areas that have totally collapsed are the gym and the auditorium and thats where they were so yes we can summise they screwed up and kids died needlessly.

Also even if they dont have a local EM they have at the least a county EM and there is also NWS offices that can help. One of the jobs of the DEM is to go to the schools and help with plans for such events. That is one of the things we do. We build plans for the whole city but the schools are a top priority. Being part of our local DEM I know exactly what goes into it. But I will say this town is a military base town. Not only do they have the a local EM but they can draw resourses and planning from the DoD as all military towns do. There is no excuse for any school district no matter how big or small to not have proper shelter plans in case of a tornado. And they cant say they werent ready. Not only did they know there was a high risk of severe wx but they had planned on letting school out early so the kids would be home but the wx came in earlier than they figured.

And yes I know all about the EF scale.. Just a habit to only put the F. I am sure I will always do it that way.
I'm usually not quick to blame with things like this before I know the facts, but this just makes me sick. What a horrible tragedy. One of the worst places to put people is a gymnasium or auditorium. Whatever happened to the disaster drills where everyone is supposed to go to the interior hallways and kneel/squat against the walls. For all the times that fire drills and emergencies like this have been practiced (or should have been practiced), someone dropped the ball and is going to have to answer for it.

This is 2007. Knowledge what to do in almost any situation should be preplanned and drilled upon. There is no excuse for the placement of the school kids where they were, if inded they were in an auditorium ro gymnasium.

And to think back as most of us watched this thing tear through that school in real-time on radar is just sad...because there was nothing we could do about it.
A very sad story indeed for that community. One has to believe that the care of all the students was taken seriously. They apparently had school buses lined up outside to send the kids home early at 1 pm. Well we all know now that the tornado hit just after 1 pm. It's possible if they were in the auditorium it was for the organized transfer to the buses. The storm was moving at 50 mph so there wasn't much time to react. It's sad that as many died with the adequate warning, but it also could have been much worse. I saw an amateur video of part of the tornado and this thing was huge! By the damage pictures and video I believe this is a classic F4. Don't know too much about the new EF system so i'll say F4. In all the eyewitness accounts from the HS I never once heard any blame. The kids and faculty did the best they could to avert a tragedy they never imagined could happen. A sad story, but a learning block for the future.
Even before I logged on to S.T. just now, my wife and I were watching FOX's report about the school in Alabama that took that direct hit, and I said "geez, even when I was a kid in kindergarten in Lincoln, Nebraska (1960) they had tornado drills...where they made us go to the hallways, sit down and tuck our heads between our knees. (yeah, I know.....KYA Back then, America was in the "Cold War" with Russia, and we also had to do drills for Atomic Bomb attacks. For those, we were told to crawl under our desks and do the same thing that we were told to do in the hallways for
I really like what Jay McCoy mentioned previously. If you've got kids in schools (in the alley) I would call and find out just exactly how they're drilling those often they're drilling, and who is in charge of those drills. If the school is doing things incorrectly...GET INVOLVED and fix it!! There is probably no one in your kid's school with more tornado knowledge than you...the chaser utilize your knowledge and become pro-active. Thanks...Joel Ewing / Tucson, Az.
I guess thats whats baffles me the most. Its like they didn't know there was a potential for severe storms. If they did do everything they could, then thats different. But if they played the game of where they ignored such warnings thats what bothers me.

Thats what I was drawing from when I heard the report. I had a bad experience myself with school admins, but thankfully it was only a drill. Thats why everytime someone tells me to listen to an offical, it makes me think twice. Not that they can't do their job, but are they really doing their job or just pushing it aside?

And as for the EF5. Yeah, I may jumped when I heard it, but you did bring up a good point Kevin. I guess when I just heard it, I assumed they were already looking at it.

And as for confusion, I guess I am just having a hard time how everyone always seem to get confused at the last minute. I am not dimissing your claim, not at all. I see it here all the when any significant event happens. I am always asking the lead person "Why are we having so much communication problems when we have radios, phones, internet, and so forth." And its really not even the technology that what stops the confusion. Its the fact of a school staying organize when something like this happens.

You would think (and I am by no means an offical when it comes this type of organization, I'm just speaking from thought), that if a principal is aware of a high risk severe weather situation, that all other concerns are secondary. Watch goes out, you think that principal would start issuing orders to his/her assitants and have them go around the school with two way radios and notfying school via intercom of the situation. Tornado warnings issued a few counties away, would it be a sign to start moving students to safety before it becomes their county?

Then again I am thinking of a highly ideal situation or want to think it works that easy. But with our technology today, with our current knowledge of weather, one would think that something better should have done.

Then again I am still a little frizzled I guess one can say that this happened.
The school officials knew of the high risk today. They had planned on letting school out early so kids could get home bfreos storms hit but it apparently happened earlier than they figured and it was too late to let kids go. Better to keep them in the school than have hundreds of kids walking home or on buses or in private cars when it hits. Frpm what IO heard they were suppose to get out like 2 hrs early but it struck at just after 1pm which is early for "normal" times that tornados strike.

I did hear a witness interview who said not everybody was in the auditorium. Some teaches kept their students in the classrooms, closets, or in hallways when the sirens went off so at least a few teachers knew better than the administrators.
"The storm was moving at 50 mph so there wasn't much time to react."

There was plenty of time to react - they had 20 minutes of warning...
If that is the case, then someone should have been listening to the weather reports. Especially with the technology today, television, radio, internet..

I know tornadoes can come without warning. But you would hope someone in schools would have some sort of knowledge of at least basic meterology to at least look out the window and look at the sky if not turn a tv on or something.

I guess its one of those things, growing up around technology and dealing with people who (not that they don't know how to use technology) but doesn't want to use it, I grow tired of people not being connected and knows whats going on around them.

Its one of those things that bugs me when I am at work, not being connected and know whats going on. Nationally, locally, or on the other side of the globe.

Its like today, I use instant message heavily, more than I use a phone. To be honest I feel like I get news faster then I do anything else or at least a heads up. But I run into people I shouldn't use it all the time. Especailly during working hours. I can see why they feel that way. But to be honest with everyone, when I use it at home and do work here, it doesn't slow me down hardly at all. I guess I am saying to me its not more distracting as if someone tapping me on the shoulder asking me a question.

So connecting that to this story, I guess if the person in charge of the safety for that school refused to use any technology because it may been too annoying for them or too much of a hassle, I feel they don't have an excuse.

But giving the benefit of the doubt, if this stom just came up too fast as some news claiming it did, then maybe it just a bad situation all around.

I guess I am looking for someone to point a finger out, because feeling being 21st century, that many lives shouldn't been lost.
Again - whatever source said the storm came without warning was dead wrong. I was watching the radar along with monitoring NWS comms on IEMChat. It was well known. You didn't need to know a THING about radar to know a NASTY storm was coming WELL in advance...
I just added without warning just incase someone mentioned it.

As for radar, I am confused. I mean looking at a weather site or turning something on to check on the weather. Or even looking outside. I was hinting around that the ones in charge may have their head burried and just flat out not paying attention. (It's happened at my school a few times. I actually grew nervous when I saw a suprised look on an assitant principal when I asked them if they knew we were under a tornado watch. Talk about un-nerving.)

And I am curious, what is this IEMchat you speak of?
IEMChat is software used for instant messaging between TV mets, EM, and NWS.

AP now correcting earlier reports - total of 7 dead in Alabama, 5 at a high school. The 15 reported from this afternoon was wrong, although they are still searching through the rubble.