BYH to the one responding to my plea for beef ribs, saying I had to leave eastern NC or even 'cross the border' to get...

Students practice what to do if a tornado comes

1 of 4

Eddy, 4, of Ms. Wilson's class, huddles in the hallway with other students during a tornado drill at Pactolus Elementary School Wednesday morning, March 8, 2017.


Beth Velliquette

Thursday, March 9, 2017

“We’re now in a tornado drill. Please assume your positions. Thank you.”

With that announcement by school secretary Portia Morning over the intercom at Pactolus Elementary School on Wednesday morning, the children in the preschool class scurried out of their classroom and into the hallway.

They were a noisy bunch, but they all got down on their knees with their heads pointed toward the wall and their hands covering their heads.

“Keep your head down,” a teacher called out. “Stay down.”

If they didn’t have it quite right, their teachers adjusted them so they’d be in the correct position, and with lots of shushing, they finally quieted down until they were all silent.

Elsewhere in the school, older students were doing the same thing, kneeling down and covering their heads, and at all the other schools in Pitt County and all around the state, students also were participating in tornado drills as part of Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

“It was a very calm and orderly drill,” said Allen Everette, Pitt County’s director of emergency management. Everette was there to observe the drill and bring awareness to being prepared for severe weather.

Ethan Lenker, the superintendent of Pitt County Schools, also attended the drill and said each school has a plan and that they practice several times a year.

Each school has a map, and schools that have mobile units have a plan on how to get children safely into the main school building and where they should go once inside.

“It’s like a fire drill,” he said. “You hope to never have to use it.”

The United States averages 1,200 tornadoes each year, but only about 20 of those are “killer tornadoes,” according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. About 60 people a year die from tornadoes.

In North Carolina, there are about 16 tornadoes a year, although in 1966 there were 66 tornadoes, the center indicates on its website. In North Carolina, the average death toll from tornadoes is two per year, but about 39 people are injured each year from tornadoes. 

The deadliest tornado in North Carolina was on Feb. 19, 1884, when a tornado in Anson and Richmond counties killed 23 people, according to the center.

The purpose of Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to develop a plan and practice it now, Everette said. Don’t wait until a tornado is bearing down.

The schools prepare by practicing what to do, and Everette wants people at home or in businesses to be prepared as well.

Each of the children received a card the size of a standard business card with three safety tips. He hopes the children will take the cards home to get their parents thinking about what they could do to stay safe at home.

The card suggests that people watch weather reports each morning, assemble an emergency supply kit with 72 hours worth of food and water and share weather information with friends and neighbors and on social media.

Schools, which often are built out of cement blocks and often are used as shelters, are generally safe places to be during severe weather, but what should someone do if they live in a mobile home?

Everette said everyone should have a plan, and if a person living in a mobile home has time to prepare, it might be a good idea to go to safer place or even go lie in a ditch.

But if there’s no time, go to an inner closet or bathroom away from any windows. Grab an old football, skateboard or bicycle helmet if one is lying around and put it on. Pull a mattress over the top of yourself and your family for protection from flying debris.

“Hunker down where you are,” he said. 

By thinking about what to do and practicing before a tornado arrives, it may help spark some other ideas to stay safe and also help people stay calm and follow their plan when the moment arrives.

For more information about tornadoes and how to prepare go to: https://www.ready.gov/tornadoes.

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or at 252-329-9566.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Crime and Rescue

April 25, 2018

A man involved in a downtown fight early this morning escaped from two assailants after pulling a knife and stabbing them in the legs, the Greenville Police Department reported.

Police were notified about a fight at Fifth and Reade streets shortly before 1 a.m., the department reported. Additional…

April 25, 2018

During opening statements on Tuesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys offered sharply differing versions of the circumstances that led up to an autistic man being stabbed to death on Oct. 19, 2015. in a field near his home in Greenville.

Michael Anthony O'Neal is on trial for first-degree…


April 25, 2018

A staff member at J.H. Rose High School filed a police report after someone damaged the front door of a shed on school grounds.

According to the report, the shed was damaged between 7:40 p.m. and 7:51 p.m. on Saturday at the school, located at 600 West Arlington Blvd. Damages to the structure were…

April 25, 2018

ELIZABETH CITY — A 28-year-old man wanted in connection with the recent shooting of his stepfather in the Newland area was apprehended on Tuesday in Pitt County, the Pasquotank County sheriff said.

Deonte Stokley was taken into custody by the Greenville Police Department's violent criminal…

Deonte Stokley.jpg

April 25, 2018

Repeat violent offenders and large drug traffickers across eastern North Carolina were put on notice Monday during a joint press conference by law enforcement agencies in the Twin Counties, surrounding area and federal law enforcement at the Helen P. Gay Rocky Mount Historic Train…

Take Back North Carolina Press Conferece - US Attorney Robert Higdon speaks at press conference.jpg

April 24, 2018

Opening statements and final trial motions are expected to begin this morning as jurors hear the case of a Greenville man accused of stabbing to death an autistic man near a grocery store off of Stantonsburg Road in Greenville.

Michael Anthony O'Neal, 24, of 4302 Evans Street is one of four co-…


April 24, 2018

Two men were arrested and charged with trafficking cocaine after sheriff's deputies found nearly 50 grams of cocaine in one man’s vehicle during a  traffic stop on Friday.

The traffic stop was conducted on U.S. 11 North, just outside of Bethel.

Hunter Joel Dees, 21, and Rashod Thomas…

April 23, 2018

The day care director at a private school in Greenville has been arrested on a charge she struck a 2-year-old with a paint stirrer in what the school called a spanking.

An arrest warrant and police report indicate that 47-year-old Shannon Renae Jacobs of Winterville struck the child twice with a…


April 22, 2018

A 20-year-old woman was charged with driving while impaired after she ran off the road and crashed into a ditch.

According to troopers, Ursula Paige Brown, 20, of 4690 Bryan Hardy Road, La Grange, was traveling west on U.S. 13 when she ran off the road to the right, re-entered the roadway, crossed…


April 21, 2018

A Greenville man filed a police report after a group of juveniles set a ditch on fire near his home.

The blaze was set in the 1300 block of Westpointe Drive between 6 p.m. and 7:20 p.m. on Thursday, according to a Greenville Police Department report.

Kristen Hunter, Greenville Police public…

275 stories in Crime and Rescue. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 28
        Next Page»   Last Page»