In May 2011, a deadly EF5 tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., killing more than 150 people, destroying homes, schools, churches and even hospitals.
As the storm worsened, massive black spiraling clouds moved over the Kansas City area. Sirens went off and students on campus enrolled in early summer classes were escorted to campus tornado shelters.
Taylor Silvestro, junior communication studies and theater major, had no idea UMKC had designated storm areas. She was escorted to the basement of Flarsheim Hall during the 2011 storm, but thinks UMKC needs to be more organized in the event of a tornado emergency.
“I didn’t know what to expect, honestly,” Silvestro said. “I was worried about contacting my parents, since my cell phone had no service in the building they moved us to.
“UMKC should be more organized in the event of a tornado. Explain the procedure and where students will be going and how to go about contacting our parents in an area where cell phones don’t have service.”
To help inform and prepare students and faculty, UMKC will participate in the annual all-state tornado drill on March 5 at 1:30 p.m.
Students should not be alarmed when they receive a message through UMKC’s mass emergency alert system about the tornado drill. Sirens will sound throughout Kansas City and messages will be played on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration All-Hazards Weather Radios.
UMKC asks students and faculty to participate in the drill, although it is not mandatory.
Safe refuge shelters have been designated in each building around campus. These shelters are located on maps in the main hallways of buildings. Those who would like to participate in the drill should consult one of these maps.
More information for preparing for a tornado can be found at http://stormware.mo.gov/preparing-for-a-tornado/.
Here in Tornado Valley, what appears to be a regular storm can turn deadly within minutes. UMKC wants students and faculty to be ready for the unexpected.