It was a disaster that shocked the world and left the nation grieving.
The response was encouraging, with volunteers and government assistance pouring in to help with the cleanup and to try to help people recover from their losses.
Weather warning systems have improved over the years, with radio, television, website, email and text messages available to help give timely information, not to mention sirens available in most areas to alert residents to threatening weather. As good as those methods are, they don’t replace having a plan.
Where would you go if you learned of a dangerous storm system approaching right now?
Gov. Robert Bentley formed the Tornado Recovery Action Council after last year’s tornadoes, which compiled a report and recommendations, most of which will need government action to accomplish. One part of that report stated the number of storm shelters available to the public should be increased and publicized so people will know where they can go when severe weather approaches. There aren’t many public shelters available, and not enough resources to go around to provide protection for everyone.
Another approach is for individuals to build safe rooms in homes and businesses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers plans on its website that can help a contractor put an effective and safe space in place.
Other suggestions in that report were made to help people cope with the aftermath of serious damage, at a time when electricity and communications might be cut off and roads can be blocked by debris.
First, stay informed about the weather and stay alert to what is happening around you.
Have a plan for reconnecting with family members if there is a disaster in your area. Keep battery operated radios and flashlights on hand, and don’t forget to keep a supply of batteries available. Keep non-perishable food supplies on hand, enough to last for three days or more. Keep some bottled water on hand, about a gallon per person per day. Have some first aid supplies on hand and essential medicines. Make copies of important identification, insurance, prescription, bank accounts and other information and keep them in a safe place. Keep some cash on hand in case the banks and ATMs are unavailable, and don’t let the gas tanks in your vehicles get below a quarter of a tank.
Thoughtful planning can help people better cope with the aftermath of a weather disaster. There’s no substitute for being prepared.