SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Seeing the images of the destruction of the Oklahoma schools is stirring memories of what happened nearly two years ago here in western Massachusetts.
When a tornado raced through our area in 2011, it struck Cathedral High School in Springfield.
The images out of Oklahoma are heartbreaking and none more so than those of school children who had no chance to escape the wrath of the twisters.
Nearly two years ago, one of the obstacles in the path of the June 1 tornado to hit Springfield was Cathedral High School
“We had a school directly impacted. We had a child care center that was hit that day when there were still present in it,” says Mark Dupont, spokesperson for the Diocese of Springfield.
Like many others, Dupont watched in disbelief as tornadoes overpowered the helpless school children of Moore, Okla.. It brought back frightening memories of when natures fury struck close to home
“The exterior of Cathedral was a lot of glass and that got pelted. The glass was devastated, so the students would have been injured, but the administration and staff at the time had the sense about them to move everyone to interior hallways and shut the doors to protect the students,” Dupont recalls.
It’s too ealry to tell if there were proper emergency plans or shelters in the Oklahoma schools.
Dupont says that while Cathedral was a relatively old school, it was strong enough to prevent tragedy
“Clearly, our buildings withstood the pressure. It was not quite as devastating a storm and I wouldn’t want to put our buildings up against what they faced yesterday in Oklahoma, but clearly, these structures were able to withstand the blunt force of that tornado,” Dupont adds.
Dupont says that schools can and should do everything possible to shield itself against the force of a tornado, but in the end, what happens is often out of our hands.
“There comes a time when nature is just simply unpredictable and you cannot calculate every possible outcome and some days, like yesterday, can be devastating in what occurs.”
The diocese is still waiting for restitution from their insurance company before reconstruction of the high school can begin.