Many Greene Countians likely had terrible flashbacks when they learned tornadoes had gashed middle Tennessee in the early hours Tuesday, accounting for — at the time of this writing — two dozen deaths.
It wasn’t so long ago — April of 2011 — that the same thing happened here, a tornado outbreak killing eight people in Greene County.
That’s why it shouldn’t be difficult to convince anyone reading to never take for granted, as people so often do, that it can’t happen to you. It can. And if you lived in Greene County nine years ago, it very well might have happened to someone you know, someone you love.
That’s why we urge Greene Countians as tornado season gets underway to be prepared, and to pray those preparations are never needed.
We’re encouraged by the fact that some of those preparations are already being made. Reporter Ken Little wrote about a good example of that in late February when he covered a tornado drill held at The Children’s Center day care facility on Fairgrounds Lane as part of Severe Weather Awareness Week. Even the 3-year-olds participating knew why they were practicing safety measures such as huddling in a laundry room with cinder block walls.
And Heather Sipe, director of the Greene County Office of Emergency Management, said day care center operators in the county know why they are required to have such emergency plans in place. “They take it seriously. What we had in 2011, it helps people keep alert,” she said.
That’s good. But what if a tornado doesn’t strike when children are at a day care center where teachers and caregivers are trained to protect them? What if one strikes — as the deadly tornadoes did this week — when most people are at home, asleep? Families need to prepare, too. On its website, the Department of Homeland Security offers a list of suggestions that can help before, during and after a tornado hits, from what kind of shelter would keep you most protected to what you should do if trapped in debris. That information is at www.ready.gov/tornadoes.
Right now, we can and should be thankful the tornadoes that devastated parts of Tennessee this week did not touch down here. And we can express that thankfulness — in part, at least — by aiding the people whose lives the storms tore apart, who lost homes, businesses and, in the worst cases, loved ones. The American Red Cross is among the agencies on the ground in the affected areas and has information about how to help on its website, www.redcross.org.
As we reach out to our neighbors in need, let’s also remember to take precautions for our own safety and that of our families. Tornado season has just begun and, as the Department of Homeland Security says on its website, they can strike “anytime and anywhere.” We can’t stop them. But we can be prepared.