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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- An alarm sounds and dozens of classes empty. Students led by teachers quietly walk into interior halls of Reedy Creek Elementary school, get down on their hands and knees and cover their heads.

This was all part of a tornado drill the school went through Wednesday as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week. While schools all over the area will take part with drills, many students at Reedy Creek have a firsthand knowledge of how important this drill is.

Mary Webb, the school s principal, said drills like this are vital for her students.

It s very important in order to prepare children. We can handle crisis best when we know what to do and expect and what to do, Webb said.

Many students who attend the elementary school also live in the neighboring subdivisions where a EF-2 tornado ripped apart houses and caused massive damage.

The school was the first place that Red Cross workers set up in to help those forced out of their homes.

They re telling us about the damage to their house...the noise from the tornado that came through, the things that they lost, added Webb. What we do every day is what the teachers do every day here is to be that nurturing person for the children.

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