Are schools re-thinking tornado safety protocols?

By WEEK Producer

December 12, 2013 Updated Dec 12, 2013 at 10:53 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- Washington Central District 51 superintendent Dr. Chad Allaman lost his house in the tornado. But his schools, which were also in the path of the storm, escaped with minor damage.

"We had winds pass by this building that were strong enough to take down twelve trees that ran directly along the side of our wings and completely flip over a three-ton HVAC unit," said Allaman.

The original brick and block portions of Central Primary and Intermediate school(s)s were built in the 1950's. Allaman calls the building structurally sound.

Only a few hundred yards away homes were destroyed. Had the storm hit during school students and staff would have been directed to shelter in an interior hallway.

"That's what would have happened had we been in school," said Allaman, "and we feel pretty confident in our structures."

And in their protocols. Enough not to change them.

Not far away away Washington Community High School has a large underground level that hold a high-percentage of students and staff during a storm. Recent renovations have also created a buffer.

"The oldest part of our building (built in 1942) is insulated by the 1975 addition and the new 2012 addition, so its like an inside core," explained District 308 superintendent Dr. James Dunnan.

Both superintendents expressed satisfaction with their respective school's preparedness plans for a storm. And both men hope they'll never actually have to see how it works.