Editorial: Warnings cannot always save

  • Posted: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 12:07 a.m.

As a huge tornado was bearing down on Moore, Okla., Monday, meteorologists at the National Weather Service knew they needed to do more than issue a tornado warning — which means a tornado has been sighted and people should take shelter immediately.

Instead, according to a report on NPR, they warned of a “tornado emergency” — monster tornado on the way.

Especially in Tornado Alley states like Oklahoma, people hear lots of tornado warnings. The Weather Service knew it needed to shake people up to let them know that this time was different.

Some 36 minutes went by between that warning and the tornado’s arrival — considerably more than the average lead time of 13 minutes. But even that was not enough to get everyone out of harm’s way. Authorities have confirmed 24 people dead so far, including nine children.

If you do nothing else in response to this disaster, go to ReadyRowan.org and sign up for emergency alerts and email notifications. When significant storms and other disasters threaten the area, you could get an emailed alert straight from Rowan County Emergency Services’ chief, Frank Thomason.

While you’re on the site, check out other resources available to help families and businesses prepare for and deal with emergency situations. There are activities for children so they can be informed instead of afraid. The site also has numbers to report emergencies to area utility companies.

Rowan County has an impressive network of professionals and volunteers who stand at the ready to help people in emergency situations, something especially worthy of note during Emergency Medical Services Week, as recently proclaimed by commissioners. In medical situations, there are physicians, nurses, medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, educators, administrators and others trained specifically to deal with emergencies and disasters. They can give lifesaving care 24/7, something many people take for granted. The same goes for the people who help us in emergencies that are not medical.

Some of our local responders and volunteers may eventually journey to Oklahoma to be part of the recovery effort there. They watch news of events like that with even more interest than the average citizen. They train and prepare for the worst, hoping it never happens. Unfortunately for the people of Moore, there are some tornados for which no amount of warning and training can prepare them.

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