When it comes to prepping, I see so many get caught up in TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) scenarios. It is a popular topic amongst the “prepared”. But I don’t see near the number of topics toward natural disasters. Why? We are FAR more likely to experience a tornado or hurricane than an EMP attack.
Being prepared for those should just as important if not more so.
With all of the natural disasters in the news lately, I thought I would take some time to give an overview of five natural disasters, ie what they are, and ways that you can be prepared for them.
Watch vs Warning
If you have ever watched the weather on your news channel, you may have heard mention of a “storm watch” or a “storm warning” and wondered what the difference was. So before we jump into the disasters, I wanted make you aware of what a “Watch” is versus a “Warning.”
A watch, be it for a tornado, hurricane, or flood, means that the weather conditions are favorable for that type of activity. It has not started yet, and it may not even start. But you should be prepared to take precautions should the situation warrant.
A warning means that the expected disaster is expected, imminent, or may have already begun. Precautions should be taken IMMEDIATELY!
A watch means it MIGHT happen. A warning means it WILL OR IS ALREADY happening. Also keep in mind that a disaster can go from a “watch” to a “warning” in the blink of an eye. The tornado that hit Moore in May 2013 went from a “watch” to the destruction of the city in less than 15 minutes. So stay alert and informed!
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.