Every year around this time , I find myself in disbelief of the death toll that happens due to tornadoes. When I saw the damage on TV in Tuscaloosa and the body count , and now Joplin. I thought to myself these people must not have been paying attention.
On Monday (May 23) here we were told on the 5pm news , We had a 45% of a tornado outbreak. It was considered moderate risk. Same thing at 10pm. On Tuesday at 5am again up until about 9am off an on we were told the same thing. By 11am , were upgraded to high risk and put under a tornado watch , and told that around 5pm that the storms would be moving into our area. A few minutes after that my home phone rang , and it was the City’s automated calling system to tell me that a tornado watch had been issued . This was the first time ever. The system is used for Amber and Silver Alerts most of the time. In the phone call it said get prepare now, and explained yet again how important it was. The regular local radio said this as well as I was driving into town to pick up batteries. My local news station even made an app for the new phones , downloadable for free for some time. With the amount of technology that we have , you would think that the death tolls would get lower , not higher.
Yesterday was an “Ohh shit day” . You don’t really grasp it , until you have lived here awhile what an Oh shit day is. A friend of mine. originally from Vegas , moved here a few years back has gotten to the point she knows the signs. She told me she walked out of work yesterday and was hit in the face with the warm humid air , and the first words she said was ” I hope we don’t have any tornadoes today. ” In the early morning it was misty , the humidity was up . The concrete was sweating , the tile and woods floors felt slightly wet , the wind was blowing out of the south constantly , and as soon as the sun came out it got a little harder to breath , and the temperature started to rise. We had everything needed for a tornado. The conditions were right for one just 3 days earlier. Photos below were taken on May 21st. from my backyard .Both pictures are the backside of storms that produced tornadoes north of where I live.
Sure enough yesterday(May 23) produced plenty of tornadoes , some confirmed , and some not. There was some small damage here . But other towns near by got it worse. Up rooted trees , down trees, down power lines , minor , to major structural damage. One photo I saw on facebook was a tractor trailer was blown over into a church, and a full size truck turned on it’s side next to a house. My nephews said they had seen a large trampoline wrapped up in power lines. But So far no lives lost near where I live.
I remember back in May of 99 watching the TV and Gary England was on telling people you need to be below ground in order to survive the tornado . This was my first view of an F5 monster. Here is some news video footage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QCruETtyoU&NR=1
Even though I have lived in Oklahoma for pretty much most of my life , there has only been one really close call in Feb. 2009. My family and I rode out an F4 tornado in our house that was only 2 miles from us. We were huddled in the laundry room. I told my husband after that, never again. Before the next storm season ,we ended up buying a storm shelter. I can tell you that even being that far away from one, it was scary as hell. Inside it sounded like what I can only describe , is like boulders hitting the roof of the house. It was so loud it was hard to hear my Son , Mom , or even my Husband’s voice in the cramped dark laundry room. That tornado killed 8 people.
Youtube videos of the damage.
Weather Channels Storm Stories Lone Grove Episode Parts 1-3 below.
The lesson I have learned over time living here.
You don’t wait for the Sirens to go off. It’s often not enough time to get somewhere safe.
You check the weather multiple times during the day . You take it serious , and don’t be stupid.
Keep your shoes by the bed , or the door. Go to bed fully dressed when there is a moderate to high risk. You don’t want to be one of those people who got out with only a robe on.
If possible sleep in shifts when you know there is severe weather coming your way. Or have one person stay up to watch the weather so not everyone looses sleep over what might be nothing.
Have a tornado bag . We have one bag that is filled with a first aid /med. survival kit , medication , important documents, Non perishable snack foods. Phone, police scanner and weather radio. It’s kept by a door to grabbed on the way out to the storm shelter.
Have a back up to get weather updates. TV/radio/phone/computer/police scanner/weather radio. One or more is likely to fail when you need it the most . TV , and cell phone are the most effected by tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.
If your on the road , or out and about and the weather is starting to look bad. Get on the phone to family or friends that can look at a radar for you. To tell you what’s going on and where you need to go to get safe. Don’t wait till it’s to late to get off the road . Being safe beats being dead every time. So what if your a little late to getting where you need to be.
Don’t get attached to your stuff. Your home , and everything in it is not as important as your life and the lives of your family and friends. Your world may get turned upside down , but the people around you will help you get it turned back around.
When buying a house in tornado alley if you can afford it , get full replacement value coverage , or it may be worded as guaranteed replacement cost coverage. It eases the mind when you know one day it might happen to you.
If you have a storm shelter , register it with the county or city. if they have a database for it. This allows them to be able to find you faster if you get trapped in your shelter.
If you have a storm shelter , store a small amount of camping gear in it if you have the room. If all fails and you loose everything , at least you will have something to start over with. I personally have two 5 gallon buckets used as benches that store camping gear , and a tent under a bench. The others buckets are used as a toilet if we ever get trapped in our shelter. I also have a few gallons of water , small travel games, some fully cooked can goods , and anything else that might make the time pass faster.
If you have any lessons you have learned , or tips , or even you own scary close encounter that you have had , please do share. Here are some tips , I did a while back simplehomestead blog. My heart and prayers goes out to all that have been effected by the recent tornadoes.