Emergency plan works after gas leak at Harper McCaughan Elementa - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Emergency plan works after gas leak at Harper McCaughan Elementary

A teacher helps direct students at Long Beach High School gymnasium as they prepare to load the bus after Wednesday's gas leak at Harper McCaughan Elementary forced the evacuation of 800 students and faculty. A teacher helps direct students at Long Beach High School gymnasium as they prepare to load the bus after Wednesday's gas leak at Harper McCaughan Elementary forced the evacuation of 800 students and faculty.
LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -

At first, the situation at Long Beach High School looked chaotic. Worried parents lined the hall to pick up their children. The Long Beach High gymnasium looked exactly like what it was; an evacuation zone.

Thanks to a quick response and a good plan, the gas leak at Harper McCaughan Elementary School ended up being an inconvenience rather than a disaster Wednesday.

“The only good thing I can say is while I didn’t want to try the plan, it worked very well,” said Long Beach Superintendent Carrolyn Hamilton. “Our students and staff were tremendous. Everybody at central office, here at the high school, middle school, everybody sending people to help.”

The leak was repaired by CenterPoint Energy, and the cause is being reviewed.

Grandparent George Williams praised the district for its quick response, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t worried.

“I was scared, very, very scared,” Williams said. “I was expecting to pick my grand baby up at the time, and when I got there, I didn’t see a lot of cars, so I wondered what had happened.”

The 800 children and staff exited the building and were eventually transported to the high school gymnasium. From there, they were picked up by anxious parents and rerouted buses.

In the meantime, the district sent out emails, robo calls and texts to give parents basic information.

“They just said they’re safe, they’ve been evacuated,” said parent Rebecca Hull. “So, my first thought was, what happened and where is my child?”

Her daughter, fifth grade student Kieran, wasn’t too worried.

“A couple of kids were freaking out. They were crying and stuff,” Kieran said. “But, it wasn't a big deal or anything.”

It upset parent Tina Smith as well.                                                                                                                         

“I have more kids at the school, and I was just in a kind of a freak out mode,” Smith said. “What do I do? What do I need to do?”

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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