Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 31, 2014

Time to Prepare

By David Hotle | Apr 18, 2012

The weather so far this year is really concerning me. Yes, this is me looking a gift horse in the mouth about the mild winter that we had, but so far the facts seem to support my somewhat paranoid view.

The long and the short of it is that so far this year we have already had more than double the number of tornadoes. Unofficially, I have to ask, since when do we begin having tornadoes in April? Living in the Midwest, I usually expect tornado season to begin sometime in June and run through August. Yes, I know. Tornadoes can happen any time but as a rule of thumb, it is the dog days of summer that I expect that kind of severe weather.

The National Weather Service reports that in a 24-hour period last weekend, 75 tornadoes touched down in Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. During the rash of tornadoes, it has been reported six people were killed.

Yes, I was concerned about “life threatening” weather because of the mild winter we had. What do I mean “mild?” I mean nonexistent. It snowed a handful of times and was cold a few days. I turned the heat on in my apartment for about a total of two weeks. I grant you I was out enjoying the warm weather like everyone else, but for the Midwest, having that mild of a winter just isn’t natural. It is making me concerned about what the summer is going to look like. I was out in 108-degree weather last summer and that was plenty warm.

So, what does this mean? There isn’t much we can do about the weather. Well, as the feds are fond of saying, “We can be afraid, or we can be ready.” I think it is about the time to start looking at some of those emergency severe weather plans.

I’m not trying to scare anyone, only to inform people. How bad can it get? Go on-line and take a look at some “after” pictures of Joplin or Applington-Parkersburg. Both of those towns look as if a nuclear bomb hit them.

I have said in the past that when a tornado comes over the hill and is heading right for you, that is the wrong time to try to decide what your tornado plan is. This is something that should be worked out well in advance of when you need it and practiced from time to time to make sure all family members know what they are supposed to do. How do you to this? Simple — act like there is a severe storm and determine what you would do to stay safe.

Do all your family members know where they should go if a tornado alarm goes off? What if they aren’t at home? Do they know how to contact you if something happens while they are elsewhere? Do you have a contact in another state that can act as a go-between if local communication lines are disrupted? Do you have several meeting points arranged? You should always plan as though the worst will happen and then everything you try to do will go wrong.

All of those are well and good, but most disaster survivors will tell you the really hard part comes in the wake of the disaster. In Haiti, after the earthquake, the problems happened when the people were without shelter, food or water. Do you have some extra food and water on hand? How about some form of cooling in the event of a power outage that lasts for a while? There are plenty of other lists of emergency supplies to keep on hand all over the Internet.

I have been thinking about disaster response a lot. I recently joined a volunteer group called Community Organizations Active in Disasters (COAD) that is tasked with organizing disaster response. While we, like all the other emergency groups in the county, will be happy to help anyone in a time of disaster, it probably isn’t a good idea to count on us. We might be overwhelmed. The truth of the matter is that no one has a more vested interest in the safety of you and your family than you do.

During a recent speech in Keota, school finance expert Larry Sigel made a statement that I wholeheartedly agree with. He said, “Hope is not a strategy.” While we can all hope we don’t need emergency plans, not having them in place is a poor idea. When that tornado comes over the hill, you will have enough to worry about without having to wonder if your loved ones are safe. If you have planned it out, you will know they are where they are supposed to be, doing what they are supposed to be doing.

 

 

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