Maybe I missed this in previous threads, if so I apologize.
I live at the far end of "tornado alley" and since this spring has been proven to be rather active in the storm area this has been on my mind a good bit lately.
About a month ago I had a private group in the theater doing a recording session. I had been monitoring the weather all day and when the sirens went off this time I knew it was time to grab the admin staff, my clients on stage and head for the basement. As I work for a city owned PAC, I have the added fun of having an athletic center next door and further up the building, a small convention space. As soon as I had everyone safely assembled in the basement, the power went off and the generator didn't kick on, and silly me, I didn't have a flashlight on hand. As I made my way back up the stairs to grab a flashlight, I heard movement - the folks from the athletic club were trying to find their way to my basement with little success. After the distribution of several usher flashlights and instructions on where to go I had the sweaty contents of the athletic club in the basement of my theater as well.
Here's the thing: I question the wisdom of the decision to evacuate the 100+ people downstairs. It took 15 minutes to move all those people in an orderly manner down those stairs. If a tornado HAD hit my theater, those people would have still been in transit. If it took that long to move 100 people, how much longer would it take to move say, 900? quite a while.
I've heard a good bit of conversation back and forth between the city administrator and the fire marshal but no consensus as of yet. Since TN is known for their twisters, I would like to be able to contribute in a meaningful way to their conversation. It seems to me that leaving the audience in their seats would be safer.
What do you do at your theatre?