April marks the two year anniversary of the deadly tornadoes in our area.
Tornado sirens sounded at 9:45 a.m. in Abingdon on Tuesday after the National Weather Service sent a test tornado warning for Tornado Preparedness Day. "A tornado warning has been issued for our area. Please relocate to the designated area," said Abingdon Elementary School principal Megan de Nobriga over the announcement system.
Students then left their classrooms, went to their safe places in the halls and got into the tuck-and-cover position as part of the statewide tornado drill. "We're always reiterating with them that we'll be ready for any kind of crisis that may come about with weather," she said.
Principal de Nobriga said these drills are even more important now after these students lived through deadly tornadoes two years ago in April. "We do have students and some teachers who are very worried and concerned when the weather turns, so we're always ready to get everybody safe," she said.
Fifth grade student Jonathan Hagy said his family knew the storm was coming that night. "There was a huge flash of lightning and I said, 'hey, why'd you turn on the lights?' I'm not kidding. It was that bright," he said.
He said he couldn't believe the destruction and aftermath of the tornadoes. "I saw a sign bent and knew it would take a lot of force to do that," he told us.
Pokey Harris with the Washington County Department of Emergency Management said these drills are essential, especially in Southwest, Virginia to raise awareness about tornado preparedness. "It's very timely. It hits close to home. It makes it more real for folks to understand it can happen here," she said.
For now, practice makes perfect. If mother nature strikes, they'll be ready. "If it ever happens again, which I hope it doesn't, we'll know what to do," said Hagy.
According to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, more than 875,000 Virginians signed up to participate in the statewide tornado drill.
During the past two years, 62 tornadoes hit the state of Virginia killing 10 people and hurting more than 200; 210 homes were destroyed statewide and more than 1,050 were damaged.