May 1, 2011 2:02 PM by Chris Welty

Tornado Strikes While Lafayette Students on Field Trip

As storms travelled through Alabama last week, also travelling in the state a group of middle school students from Lafayette.

It was a field trip these student won't soon forget and a KATC exclusive as parents and students spoke only with us when they returned home.

"It was like a dark, dark sky and the lights started flickering." James Benjamin was one of the 60 students from Paul Breaux Middle School on a field trip to NASA in Huntsville, Alabama. A tornado touched down right across the street from their hotel. Benjamin says the chaperons did a good job with responding quickly and making sure that everyone was safe.

Within three days, more than 250 twisters touched down, including the twister that hit Huntsville. Students that we spoke with say they're lucky they were prepared and that the damage around them was minimal.

Elridge Peterman, an eighth grade student says, "They had like a little safe spot and it was the safest part of the hotel. We were sitting there, some were crying, some were shaking and stuff."

"It was just a matter of get up let's go, and it was done. It was well rehearsed and carried out", says Chaperon, Melanie Thevis.

For some parents back home in Lafayette, the unknown of whether or not their child was safe was starting to take a toll. "We went through hurricanes together but her being away from me was a lot more difficult than her being with me. I'm her mother, I can protect her, but if she's not with me, I can't protect her."

A memorable trip for both parents and students with this tale right out of tornado alley.

Peterman says, "This was my first, second, third time in a tornado environment and dark, dark clouds. I think I will remember it forever."

Chris Welty



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