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Emergencies are never planned. Disaster can strike when you least expect it. So having plans and being prepared for these contingencies could save your life! Here are 8 lessons to take from a real life disaster.
May 20th, 2013 started out just like any other day. I went to work and had a rather uneventful day. I got home around 2:30 in the afternoon, and turned on the TV to see the local weather man warning people of a “Tornado Watch” issued for my area. The maps on TV showed an approaching storm cell, and it looked ominous.
The “Tornado Watch” went to a “Tornado Warning” in about 15 minutes, and by a little after 3pm, the city of Moore, Oklahoma had been hit, and hit HARD. In the end, 24 people lost their lives, and over 350 had been injured. The Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, was quick to call it a disaster area. In the end, the damage from that tornado was estimated to be over $2 BILLION.
By 3:30pm, my police chief called me and asked if I could go to Moore and assist. Mary Fallin was asking for all available emergency personnel to come to the affected area. So back on goes the uniform and gear, and off I went.
Now I don’t live that far from Moore, but it took me much longer than usual to get there. The interstates were packed with vehicles trying to get TO the area. Even with lights and sirens, a few times I found myself driving on not just the shoulder of the highway, but on the outlying fields themselves to get around traffic that had come to a stand-still.
I know the back roads in that area well, but I did not take them. I had no way of knowing how many of them would be impassable due to the tornado. And I knew that I-35, the main US highway that runs right through the middle of Moore had not been damaged. (Although parts of it had been shut down due to debris on the highways.)
Eventually I made it, and was given directions to the Emergency Command Center. It was in the heart of the affected area; a Home Depot parking lot. There were a row of businesses right there that were relatively untouched, and they had vast parking areas. Plenty of room to set up operations and the needed equipment.
On a side note: The north side of that street, on the other hand, had been wiped out. It reminded me of pictures of the aftermath of WWII. Buildings were gone or gutted. In route to the area, I drove past what remained of the local hospital. My first thought when I saw what was left of it was that the death toll there would be catastrophic. Yet somehow, those in the hospital had been evacuated in the nick of time.
Lesson #1 – Have emergency routes and back up routes (with maps) established ahead of time
Like I said, I knew the back roads in that area as it wasn’t far from where I grew up. But I had no idea what sort of condition those roads were in. And were it not for the fact that I was in an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens, I could have been sitting on the interstate for hours.
For my first article, I thought I would tell you a little about myself, and the purpose of this new prepper site.
A former outdoor survival instructor, I currently work as a police officer in a suburb of Oklahoma City.
I found myself beginning to prep just a few years ago. I fought the term “Prepper” for a long time, as I believed the media had given it a negative connotation. Instead, I was “being prepared for unforeseen events”. But let’s be honest, I was merely arguing semantics.
I’m still not crazy about the term. But it is what it is.
Although I started just a few years ago, I have a long history of being outdoors and developing survival skills. It started in my teens, as I was a Boy Scout. I loved it, and made the rank of Eagle Scout at age 16. I camped every summer, including a 2 week stay in Scout Camp at Philmont, NM.
In my late teens, I attended a 3 month outdoor survival school, where I eventually became an instructor. I taught others primitive living skills such as land navigation, primitive fire making (bow drill), how to locate and secure water, how to make rudimentary shelters, and other survival skills.