Very few things strike pure fear into a bus drivers' mind than weather troubles. We are like the US Postal Service. You know the saying, "Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow....." We drive in all kinds of inclement and sometimes dangerous weather. We keep control of a busload of children while trying to keep our cool in pouring rain, sleet, hail, snow, and fog. Somehow we also juggle the ever constant CB radio traffic, kids being obnoxious, and parents demanding things from us, while driving and dropping the kids off safely.
The day started out rather normally, although we had an increase in rainy weather over the course of the week. Rain is a fairly normal obstacle, but occasionally we get fronts of some scary thunderstorms that cause us to be on severe thunderstorm and tornado watches. Occasionally, these watches turn into warnings, and it is imperative that we take cover.
My field trip had been canceled, so I was riding along with a friend learning the changes in her route. We had just left the elementary school with approximately 50 some odd children on the bus. We pulled into the middleschool and began loading like normal, when it got very quiet. The principal was making rounds to every bus and saying something.
He got to our bus and said, "We need to get these kids off the bus and into the school NOW.... there is a Tornado warning!"
Pause. Sheer disbelief. Then Action!
We hustled all the kids off at the same time as about 20 other bus drivers. They split the buses in half and we directed the kids into the school and told them to stick together and follow directions. We had mass chaos and panic. Some kids even cried and needed to be held because they were scared. We evacuated the buses at 3 pm, and did not get back on the buses until 45 minutes later.
Luckily the tornado stayed away from the school but it was near enough for it to be a dangerous threat. As soon as we got back on the buses, the skies opened up, and it poured, and flooded.
The good news is we all made it home safe, but in the end, its not something I want to go through again.
NOT Over The Rainbow,
The Bus Driver