Forrest County Schools Storm Ready - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Forrest County Schools Storm Ready

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An EF-4 tornado damaged two Hattiesburg high schools February 10, a Sunday night.

What if the next twister hits your child's school on a weekday?

The National Weather Service says Forrest County Schools are prepared...and certified storm ready, meeting several requirements.

"Have you got a plan in place?" asked National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Wilkinson.  "Have you got multiple ways to receive warnings for tornado warnings?  If there's a hurricane coming, are you getting the up-to-date information that you need?"

When checking Forrest County Schools, the answers to those questions are yes.

"They've done the things that are necessary to make sure that every school building, every staff member has done the things they need to do to prepare so that when the warnings are issued by the National Weather Service, they take the steps that are necessary," MEMA Executive Director Robert Lantham said.

"Well it's definitely an honor that the National Weather Service recognized us," Forrest County School District Superintendent Brian Freeman said.  "Being the first in the state was not our goal. Our goal was to go through the process and provide safety to our children."

Wilkinson said Storm Ready is trying to focus on the most active tornado areas in the country, and several Alabama school districts have already reached the certification.

Lantham said Hattiesburg proved that a natural disaster doesn't mean lives have to be lost.

"We know it's proven that if people just do what we ask them to do when they get these severe weather warnings, then they can survive the severe weather," he said. 

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