I came across the following story in my local paper and I found it to be soooooooooooooo stupid in its total lack of concern for the safety of the students.  Here is the article as written:


Bismarck and Mandan schools drill regularly on what to do during a tornado, like the one that devastated Moore, Okla., Monday.  The Bismarck and Mandan public schools, along with Shiloh Christian School and Saint Mary’s Central High School, generally have one or two drills per year, frequently one in the fall and one in the spring.  During a tornado drill, students head to designated spots, usually in the interior of the building away from windows, where they crouch against walls with their hands covering their heads.

St. Mary’s, one of the only buildings with a basement, doesn’t make students sit with their hands over their heads, according to principal Tom Eberle.  The St. Mary’s basement was actually used as a potential bomb shelter in the 1960s, so the students are “very safe,” Eberle said.  Eberle said he remembers keeping kids in the St. Mary’s basement for about two hours during that time.  It’s these kind of drills, Eberle said, that can save kids’ lives.

Becky LaBella, the safety coordinator for the Bismarck Public Schools, said that in the Bismarck schools, students are directed to interior rooms, often music rooms, and hallways without exterior walls.  LaBella said she is always reviewing safety procedures. She had meteorologists come in during the past year and recommend best practices, which she relayed to principals.

The tornado procedure is much the same for Mandan schools, acccording to supertendent Mike Bitz. Mandan is in the process of updating its crisis plan, which Bitz said will be in place for the upcoming school year.

Shiloh Christian School also does not have a basement, so students head to interior hallways and bathrooms, said Morgan Forness, the Shiloh superintendent and high school principal.  Forness said it is important schools keep practicing these drills, especially considering recent events.  “Certainly, it’s a wake-up call when you see the happenings (in Oklahoma),” he said.

The last recorded tornado in the Bismarck area happened Nov. 1, 2000, according to the National Weather Service. It injured several people and caused significant damage to the northern part of Bismarck.


Now, I am not normally an alarmist, but am I the only one who sees the utter nonchalance of this article and the total unbelievable idea,  that interior walls are going to protect children in the event of a tornado.  Anybody who saw on the news, the total devastation of those two schools in Oklahoma City, should be shouting bloody murder at the way the local school district is planning for possible deadly storms.  Buildings with long-span roof supports are usually the first buildings to fail.

This reminds me of those stupid school drills in the 50’s and 60’s, when they had children hiding under their desks, in case of a nuclear bomb.  As if the desk was going to keep you alive.  I think that it was more to do with giving the students a false sense of security so that there would not be wide-scale panic.  If you think back to those drills, the teacher never attempted to seek shelter, she just walked around the room making sure that we all behaved.  Almost like lambs before the slaughter.

I realize that tornadoes during our school year is a remote possibility in our area of the country, but it could easily happen in early fall.  I also realize that most people in this state have never experienced the utter destruction that can occur.  If this city ever has a tornado, I would expect greater than normal loss of life and injures.

When I was a young man, we had a large funnel hovering above our main street.  It never touched down and it was a good thing…because there were literally hundreds of people standing around on the street watch this funnel rotate above their heads.  I was working at my job, a block away, and was told that I had to stay at my workplace and could not go into the building’s basement, even though the sirens were sounding.

I also realize that you have to work with what you have, but to say that we practice twice a year in preparation is total utter nonsense.