Fishel talks to Ben Martin students about tornadoes

Posted May 6, 2011 4:42 p.m. EDT
Updated May 6, 2011 6:51 p.m. EDT

— The students of Fayetteville's Ben Martin Elementary School got a special visit on Friday from WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel.

The school invited Fishel to talk to students about the April 16 tornadoes that ravaged the state and caused an estimated $5.2 million in damage to their school. Parts of the roof were ripped off the Reilly Road K-5 school during the storm.

During a rebuilding process that is expected to take the rest of the year, the school's students have been divided between Ramsey Street Middle School and the old Hillsborough Elementary School.

During two assemblies at Ramsey Street Middle, Fishel explained to the students how tornadoes form and the remote chance that they would be affected by another one.

"The good news is about tornadoes is that they don't come out of the clear blue sky," Fishel said. "The kind of tornadoes that we had out here three weeks ago are very, very, very rare. In fact, chances are that, for the rest of your life, you will never be affected by a tornado as bad as the one that came through here three Saturdays ago."

Fishel said he was impressed by the children's behavior and resilience during such a difficult time.

"I've never been affected by a tornado personally, and I'm a lot older than you are," Fishel said. "So, you guys have been through some pretty tough stuff. You know what I am impressed by? Your spirit."

Student Ethan Jenson said the storm knocked out power to his home for three days. He said it was "kind of scary." 

Fellow Ben Martin student Mattie Catherine Mabes said her family had a generator. 

"We hooked up the generator and just watched WRAL about the tornadoes, and we thank you so much for your support," she said. 

At the end of the assemblies, Fishel presented the more than 500 students with slingback bags containing school supplies.

“The only downside is that it has my face on it, but that doesn’t affect the quality,” Fishel joked.

Cumberland County Schools leaders said they expect the rebuilding of Ben Martin Elementary to last through the fall semester.