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 Tornados and Us

 

Are you and your family prepared for severe weather?  What do you think you’ll need in the house or car if you’re caught in a really bad storm?  Have you practiced drills?  Have you discussed emergency procedures?

A lot of us feel, “it won’t happen to me, or we haven’t ever had that kind of storm in this area before.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  We can never be too prepared.  Last week we had the pleasure of Mother Nature visiting us and letting us know how powerful she can be.  The storm with tornados was extremely strong and devastating to many families in our area.

I was on shift Saturday night when the weather indicated a severe thunderstorm was headed our way. Not really knowing how bad it would be, you just take the standard precautions at the plant, notify the operators, check for lose materials lying around and ensure stand by pumps are ready.  I called the family and prepared for the night.

I have always kept candles, batteries, a battery operated radio and several flashlights throughout the house as well as a phone that is not cordless (cordless phones won’t work during a power outage).  We’ve never practiced any type of drill or discussed what we would do during severe weather, but we do now.

Apparently the excitement was too much for my family when the storm hit and they started to panic.  My family couldn’t get the batteries in the radio, could not find the phone and were getting hysterical minute by minute. This delay only caused more stress and kept them from going to the closet while the storm raged on and got closer and closer.  Thunder, lightening and high winds constantly pounded the house.  Ambulances, police cruisers and fire trucks speeding up the roads with sirens blaring only added to the stress.  Not being home allowed for confusion and concern on my part.  I could not get through to my family and was left worried. I had to go home.

On my way home, my wife managed to find the phone and called my daughter who lives about 15 miles away, to be sure she knew about the storm and the tornado warnings, she didn’t, she was watching a movie and had not seen the warnings.  She did however, pay attention to her mother and checked outside.  She now knew how serious it was.  Shortly after that, she said her girlfriend (just 5 miles down the road) called and said their place had been hit and the tornado was coming her way.

It was almost midnight when I arrived at the house.  The storm had passed and I needed to get the household settled down, then it was time to concentrate on my daughter’s place.  I called her cell phone and she said the tornado had just hit.  They were all gathered in the bathroom and were fine.  I explained to her that it wasn’t over and just remain calm and I would try to get there once the “all clear” was sounded.

It wasn’t long before I attempted to get to the house.  The state troopers had the roads blocked off, trees and debris was blown all over the place but we managed to get to the house. It was hit harder than any other house in the neighborhood. The roof was half gone, siding ripped off, trees blown down barely missing the house.  The dog was thrown from the pen and literally placed in a hole of an uprooted tree, we found him frightened but fine.  The place was practically leveled.  I was in awe, I’ve never seen such a mess and was extremely grateful the family was okay.  We would check out the damage in the morning, now we just wanted to secure the house the best we could and get some rest.

We learned a lot through the storm.  Keeping candles, batteries, an extra phone and flashlights help, but remaining calm was the most important thing to do. The panic can be more dangerous than the storm.  You need to practice and always be prepared.

When a potential storm is on the way, we get the stuff out, check the flashlights and the radio and calmly call everyone.  We also have a better storm kit than before. We have a better first aid kit, blankets, rain ponchos, more flashlights and batteries and even a wind up radio.

So the next time you see the big clouds start rolling in and the sky begin to darken, ask yourself, are you prepared?  Mother nature can pack a wallop when she wants and all we can do is try to help ourselves be calmer and better prepared.

 

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