Greene Co. Middle School talks weather preparedness ahead of tornado anniversary

SNOW HILL, N.C. (WITN) – As many parts of North Carolina experienced severe weather on Thursday, a school in the east is looking back at the tornado that destroyed their building and how they are now “weather prepared” for the future.

Staff and students at Greene County Middle School in Snow Hill are reflecting on the powerful storm that ripped through the area on April 16, 2011.

School Librarian, Leigh Bright was on maternity leave at the time and remembers returning after it happened.

“When I walked into the library, the roof of the library had been peeled off by the tornado and the window, all the windows over there was gone and it was just surreal,” says Bright.

Assistant Principal, Thomas Loftin, says because it happened on a Saturday, no students were inside while much of the campus sustained significant damage.

He says students and staff are now “weather prepared” by the reinforced building structure as well as regular safety drills.

“The exterior windows were all replaced with a specific type of glass like they use in Miami-Dade County, which is hurricane proof,” says Loftin.

WITN Meteorologist Charlie Ironmonger says the state is in severe weather season now through June.

“We’re transitioning from a cold period to a warm period, from winter to summer and it’s those temperature differences that happen with each passing cold front that power a lot of the storms that we see,” says Ironmonger.

Bright says as a school and as a community — she feels they were all very blessed.

“Looking back on that day, I can just imagine just so much destruction and just lives would have been lost had it been a different situation,” says Bright.

Officials say on Thursday severe weather impacted Rowan County – ripping the roof off of a school – and in Cabarrus County – a 10-year-old was rescued after getting pinned under a tree.

After the tornado, school officials say middle schoolers shared space with the high schoolers for the remainder of the year – then held classes in trailers– until it reopened in 2013.