COLUMBIA — The statewide severe weather drill went ahead as planned Thursday afternoon, but the director of the Columbia/Boone County Office of Emergency Management chose not to sound outdoor warning sirens.
Director Zim Schwartze made the call just a few minutes before the drill was scheduled to take place at 1:30 p.m.
Schwartze cited the weather as the reason. She monitored conditions until 1:25 p.m. and said the light rain and gusting wind prompted her not to sound sirens.
“We didn’t want to alarm anyone and have citizens believe we were experiencing real conditions,” Schwartze said in a news release.
Still, Schwartze said, she encouraged schools, businesses and hospitals to continue with their plans for the drill.
“We did a normal monthly activation last week, and everything was working great,” Schwartze said later on Thursday. “And we did have weather move through the area (Wednesday) night to the south and east of us.”
Schwartze said she used phone calls, text messages and e-mails to spread the word about her decision.
The drill already had been postponed statewide on Tuesday.
Faculty, staff and students at Rock Bridge Elementary School followed through with their drill. Students emerged from their classrooms, lined themselves up against the hallway walls, crouched down and covered their heads while the teachers took roll to ensure everyone was there.
Ryan Link, assistant principal at Rock Bridge, said the school regularly participates in the statewide tornado drill. It also practices bus evacuations and responses to earthquakes, intruders and bomb threats.
“If things don’t go smoothly, we usually try it again,” Link said.
Regular storm drills for the county and city, with outdoor sirens, are conducted at noon on the first Wednesday of every month.