May 9, 2014 started out like a typical spring day: rainy and slightly overcast. But by the end of the day, an unexpected storm had rolled through southwestern Indiana, including Boonville, leaving millions of dollars in damage in its path.
While this destruction is still fresh in our memories, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about severe weather safety. While structural damage is unavoidable, there are a few simple and inexpensive steps that can be taken to avoid the loss of lives.
First, every home should have a disaster supply kit. This kit should consist of basic household supplies sufficient enough to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours. This includes, but is not limited to, non-perishable food items, one gallon of water per person per day and other supplies such as a flash light, extra batteries, first aid kit and a manual can opener for food. All of these supplies should be stored in one place, like a plastic tote for example, so that they are easy to find and easy to transport at a moment’s notice. A more exhaustive list of suggested supplies can be found by visiting http://www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit.
Second, every home should have a weather radio. The worst tornadoes often occur at night, such as the 2005 deadly tornado which occurred in Evansville and Warrick County, which points to the importance of Hoosiers having the ability to receive warnings 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Weather radios are a convenient way to do just that and offer a low maintenance alternative that will come in handy even when the power is out. A basic radio can be found at retailers, such as Wal-Mart, for $30, which is a small price to pay when your life is at stake.
Last but not least, every home should have an emergency plan. The recent storm took a direct hit on Boonville High School, with winds peeling off roofing, allowing water to be dumped inside the classrooms. Thankfully, this did not happen in the middle of the school day, but there were still a couple hundred students there participating in afterschool activities. Thankfully, Boonville High School had an emergency plan in place, and it worked. All of the students were able to get to the designated safe areas, and no one was hurt.
This illustrates the importance of sitting down as a family to decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go and what you will do before a storm ever occurs. To make this as easy as possible, the Federal Emergency Management Agency already has a form made that you can fill in with your specific information. To find this form you can visit: http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/documents/files/Family_Emegency_Plan.pdf.
Thankfully no lives were lost as a result of the powerful storm that struck southwestern Indiana just a few short weeks ago, however these safety tips are still important to repeat. May and June are the peak tornado months in Indiana, which unfortunately means that we could still be in store for even more severe weather. As spring and summer draw on, I hope that we do not soon find ourselves in a similar situation, but just in case, it is best to be prepared!
As a final note, I want to commend Warrick County officials, Boonville city officials and emergency management as well as Vectren and the Indiana Department of Transportation for their vigilance in the aftermath of the storm. I am also encouraged by the willingness of community members, both young and old, to step up and help one another in their time of need. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with those impacted by the storm, and I know that together, we will rebuild.