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Local schools' tornado protocol mirrors Oklahoma

7:20 PM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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So many stories are coming out of Moore, Oklahoma, about the heroic actions of teachers trying to keep their students safe.

In February 2012, teachers in the Tellico Plains school system were concerned they might find themselves in a similar situation.

Severe weather began to threaten the area shortly after school got out for the day, and many students and neighbors had to take refuge inside the sturdy walls of local schools as an EF-2 tornado touched down.

Tellico Plains High School Principal says his students and teachers regularly train for emergency scenarios.

Related: Knox Co. Schools have severe weather plan to protect students

"I tell the teachers every year, look for places that you would put your own children," said Harris. Most of the time, that means students huddle into the windowless, cinder block locker rooms.

That's where rising junior Holley Kelley spent the evening trying to help calm some of the elementary school students taking cover.

"They were scared to death," said Kelly. It was a frightening experience, says Kelly. But she says the magnitude of the situation didn't hit home until she saw her neighborhood.

"After we got home and looked and seen all the damage done, it scared me more than anything," said Kelly. Her home wasn't damaged. "We're very blessed."

Both the junior high and high school principals say their procedure for handling severe weather, like tornadoes, is familiar to many people.

When there's a threat, students move to the hallways and hold books over their heads.

But if things get worse, or there's a confirmed touch down, students move in to safe rooms, like locker rooms or interior closets.

Many children and teachers who were victims in the recent tornado that devastated Moore, OK reported a similar protocol.

Some of those students recounted clinging to walls in their schools interior hallways and huddling to in to  bathrooms while the tornado passed overhead.

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