Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Lessons Learned from the Alabama Tornadoes

The recent tornadoes in Alabama were both a human tragedy as well as the worst tornadoes to hit the area in nearly a decade.  As always after a disaster, it is a good idea to find out what lessons can be learned from what happened so as to better prepare for future disasters.  Here's some take-aways from the disaster:

  • Weather forecasting has improved but people in the area still only had 12 minutes of warning that a tornado was headed their way.
  • People were pretty complacent about the tornado warnings that came through on their cell phones and local news because they had received may in the past which turned out to not be serious; this one was.
  • Having community safety shelters is important, however with very little warning, many people were unable to get to them.
  • Sheltering in a trailer is a lousy idea; many trailers were picked up and thrown around the community due to the high winds.
  • If you need a safe place to shelter from a tornado, consider digging a trench (note that trench collapse is a thing so brace your trench accordingly).
  • Many poor residents of the area may not have been able to afford $30 weather radios which would have alerted them to the impending tornadoes (a good idea for a gift if you know people in similar situations).
  • It was also noted that pockets of people (poor, non-English speaking, elderly) may not have received warnings of the approaching tornadoes either because they didn't have a weather radio, didn't access news and information through social media, or didn't understand the warnings which were in English.
  • Clean up, repairs and rebuilding, and funerals are the next steps for the community.

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