Children trapped on bus during tornado - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Children trapped on bus during tornado

January 17, 2006

Colquitt County - Last Friday, a tornado ripped through Colquitt County. Homes were damaged, tress snapped and power lines down, and through it all, children were being taken home, on buses, after school was let out.

"This is where I was looking out the window and I spotted the tornado," says Loretta White. She and her daughter were at home when the tornado hit. "I said, 'let's get in the closet.'"

In just a couple of minutes, the worst weather passed. She says, "I went outside and I told my daughter to stay in the closet, and I looked, you know, but the tornado had already moved across the road, and the next thing I knew, the bus pulled up, and my son was on the bus."

A complete shock. Loretta had assumed, since the weather was so severe, that he was still at school. Loretta says, "You can't predict a tornado, when it's going to hit or where it's going to hit. I was just lucky that my son was okay and nobody got hurt."

She says, "They have certain things they do in a tornado warning, but when they're on the bus, looks like there should be something they can do."

Superintendent Leonard McCoy says, "Anytime we're under tornado warnings, not watches, but warning, then we will keep the children in school."

If the warning is issued after the children leave, an announcement is made over the radio. McCoy says, "Many times they're in the middle of a situation, and they have to use good judgment. When it comes down to situations like last Friday, it often times falls on the shoulder of the driver to make a good decision. The track record for Colquitt County drivers is that they make good decisions for the safety of children."

Superintendent McCoy says if a driver spots a tornado, she is to stop the bus in a secure area, keep all the children on the bus, and make them get down on the floor until the storm has passed. He says the school system holds meetings every month with bus drivers and driving safely in severe weather will be on the next agenda.

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