North Carolina school roof collapses during gym class: 'Debris starts flowing in'
As storms continue to strike North Carolina this week, an elementary school was forced to close for repairs after a microburst blew out the gymnasium wall and part of the roof, injuring three students.
In a terrifying surveillance video recorded on Monday, Union Intermediate School students are seen playing inside the gym during class when the stage curtains on the far side of the room start to move violently. Suddenly, debris begins flying through the air as children and teachers run to the other side of the gym.
"The students were doing their gym activities, and all of a sudden, it’s just debris starts flowing in and you see the sky," Sampson County Schools spokesperson Wendy Cabral told WTVD.
A giant gust of wind and dust comes plowing through the curtains, knocking everything over in its path. Behind the curtain, it's apparent that the wall on the other side — as well as the roof — had collapsed. Principal Dondi Hobbs said the heavy stage curtain helped buffer the debris and probably saved more kids from getting hurt.
The National Weather Service confirmed on Tuesday that a microburst, which has winds that can reach up to 85 miles per hour, was to blame for the destruction.
Three fifth-graders were taken to the hospital following the incident with minor injuries. They were all released by Tuesday afternoon and are expected to be OK.
One of the injured students, Chloe Brewer, described the chaos to WTVD.
"It was our P.E. day. We were playing basketball, and it just sounded like something exploded in there," she said. "I just turned around and was looking at the stage, and it just collapsed. Then, we started running. Something hit me from behind, and I fell down. Then, the glass started breaking."
Students are expected to return to campus on Jan. 16, where there will be counselors on hand to help students process the recent events.
Hobbs says they were lucky. If the microburst had happened 24 hours later, the gym would have been filled with 450 students for a scheduled assembly.