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Escambia County School District severe weather procedures

ESCAMBIA COUNTY   -  After watching schools get wiped out by the tornado in Oklahoma, we asked about the safety of schools in our area when extreme weather hits.

For many parents here on the gulf coast, the images out of Oklahoma stir up some tough memories.
Donna Hargrove, Mother of Student: "I felt like they felt what we felt during Ivan".
   
Donna Hargrove was in Pensacola when Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004.
Donna Hargrove, Mother of Student: "It takes so much time to build up and so little time to tear everything down."
   
Video Channel Three shot just after Ivan shows devastating damage at workman middle school.
   
The storm hit in the middle of the night and, as is customary, schools were evacuated well before it reached land.

Malcolm Thomas, Superintendent, Escambia County Schools: "We've got weather radios. Every school has a weather radio."
   
In the event of extreme weather, superintendent Malcolm Thomas says the district takes a number of precautions.   

Each school is required to hold at least one tornado drill a year.
And during tornado warnings, he says students are brought out of classrooms and portables and into permanent structures away from windows.

Malcolm Thomas, Superintendent, Escambia County Schools: "In an event like Oklahoma, it wouldn't matter unless you had a basement and of course we have no basements in Florida."

Parents we spoke with for the most part are comfortable with the district's procedures.
Donna Hargrove, Mother of Student: "I'm very pleased with the way they've carried out the drills. They've done a lot of practice drills here for tornadoes. for hurricanes and storms."

Patricia Solis, Mother of Student: "They're pretty prepared. She has told me how she came home and they had a drill that day."

One mother said off camera she's worried schools don't all follow the rules uniformly and that they should have to keep records of tornado drills.

Thomas says the district is not required to keep those records.
He says steps are in place to make sure all schools follow the regulations.

Reporter: Are schools safe places in a hurricane or a tornado?
Malcolm Thomas, Superintendent, Escambia County Schools: "I think they're safe as any other public building. They're probably safer than some of the places where some of our students are released to go home."

The school year ends on May 31st  one day before hurricane season begins.
Superintendent Thomas says he will be reviewing safety procedures over the summer.