Henryville school leaders study lessons from tornadoes


As the clean-up from devastating tornadoes continues in Henryville, school officials are studying the damage to learn for the future.

The analysis of the storm damage will give administrators a better idea of how to prepare tornado drills and safe places to go. Thirty percent of the Henryville High School complex was destroyed in the March 2 tornadoes and it was quick, decisive action of those administrators that saved lives.

"We made a decision after we learned from these different sources that a tornado was heading for Henryville and was about a half-hour away," said Dr. John Reed, West Clark Community Schools. "That's when we made a decision to go with early dismissal and send the kids home."

The exit from the school was efficient and orderly, but there were a few students who stayed at the school.

"At that time, we felt like, that the kids, it was just not safe to put them on the bus, so we brought them back into the building, into the most secure area we had in the school," Reed said.

That turned out to be a good idea, as those students safely rode out the storm.

The most important lesson learned?

"Communication is something you can't overdo," Reed said. "And the second thing we learned was that, in any situation, there's going to always be a glitch somewhere and when you go through your practice drills, we learned that it's important to throw in a stumbling block or two."

A good plan, communication and practice led to a positive result in the face of a powerful tornado. School officials believe the school will be repaired in time for students to return to class in the fall.