With some guidance from firefighters and police officers, employees and visitors at Denton City Hall on Wednesday navigated from their offices and meeting spaces to the basement for a tornado drill.
As part of the first National Day of Action campaign by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Denton City Hall and schools and other municipalities conducted tornado drills to encourage people to prepare for potential natural disasters.
“We made a sweep through the building, and we even interrupted a planning meeting in council chambers,” said Michael Penaluna, emergency management coordinator for the city. “We went through and made sure everyone knew there was a tornado drill being conducted.”
Within a few minutes, everyone made it into the basement, which Penaluna said is the safest room in the building. When moving from his office to the basement, John Cabrales, assistant city manager, said he heard some giggles from the crowd but the drill got everyone in the building to fully participate.
“Typically, we don’t have to evacuate our offices, but in this particular case I think it was a good drill because it reminded everyone of the importance of seeking shelter,” Cabrales said.
Once everyone was gathered in the basement, Penaluna went over some safety tips — such as having a disaster kit prepared and knowing the best room in a house or building to seek shelter.
“I always tell people don’t think about bricks and tree limbs, think about cars slamming into it,” Penaluna said. “So you want to get somewhere center, and put as many walls between you as possible.”
Other drills will be conducted this week in the spirit of the FEMA campaign. The University of North Texas will have a live emergency drill Friday at Discovery Park with help from the city and local agencies.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.