Lifestyle & Human Interest

Watch as Students Run for Their Lives When Storm Tears Through Gym Roof


Students and staff from a North Carolina elementary school are counting their blessings after a violent storm tore off the gymnasium roof, injuring three people.

Students at Union Intermediate School in Clinton, North Carolina, were playing basketball inside the gym on Monday afternoon when a wet microburst whipped through the area, tearing apart the building’s roof and wall, WRAL reported.

Video footage showed the moment that 21 fifth-grade students and their teacher ran for their lives as the winds, estimated to be 80 to 85 mph, brought a section of the building’s roof crashing down.

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Three students were treated at the hospital for minor injuries, including fifth-grader Chloe Brewer, who said she was fleeing the area when something hit her from behind.

“It was our P.E. day. We were playing basketball, and it just sounded like something exploded in there,” Chloe said.

“I just turned around and was looking at the stage, and it just collapsed. Then, we started running. Something hit me from behind, and I fell down. Then, the glass started breaking.”

Wendy Cabral, assistant superintendent for personnel services at Sampson County Schools, is thankful that the situation was not worse.

“What a blessing it is that only three students were injured and those three students are going to be OK,” Cabral said. “We can fix this building, but students are our priority. We’re very blessed that they’re OK.”

Principal Dondi Hobbs told WRAL that the stage curtain, which was closed at the time, helped shield the students from the flying debris.

Hobbs said if the storm had occurred Tuesday, 450 students would have been in the gym for an assembly.

“I am appreciative of God’s blessings,” Hobbs said. “He takes care of us and directs us all the time.”

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The school was closed Tuesday and Wednesday, The Sampson Independent reported, giving the district time to clear the debris and work with a structural engineer to begin restoration.

“This is kind of a freak thing the way it just came out of nowhere,” Mark Hammond, executive director of auxiliary services for Sampson County Schools, told The Sampson Independent.

“We’re very fortunate and very thankful that no one got hurt. It just reminds you each and every day that you never know what’s coming. There’s always something out there that’s out of the grasp of your control. We’re thankful that this is all that it was at the end of the day.”

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A graduate of Grand Canyon University, Kim Davis has been writing for The Western Journal since 2015, focusing on lifestyle stories.
Kim Davis began writing for The Western Journal in 2015. Her primary topics cover family, faith, and women. She has experience as a copy editor for the online publication Thoughtful Women. Kim worked as an arts administrator for The Phoenix Symphony, writing music education curriculum and leading community engagement programs throughout the region. She holds a degree in music education from Grand Canyon University with a minor in eating tacos.
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