Don’t Even Think of Outrunning a Tornado

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In memory of “Storm Chasers” stars Tim Samaras, 55, his 24-year-old son, Paul, and 45-year-old colleague Carl Young.

Sometimes it seems like the world is against you. It certainly seemed that way to the citizens of Moore, Oklahoma, where an EF-5 (the worst there is) touched down about a week ago. 70 children were injured and nine were killed, many of them who were attending Briarwood Elementary School or Plaza Towers Elementary School. It seems like a miracle that all of the students at Briarwood survived, but it was because of construction and not luck – we’ll get back to this after our commercial break. Friends, have you ever tried to outrun a tornado?

Just a few days ago, frightened Oklahoma residents tried to. And just like we saw during Katrina, interstates and roadways quickly became parking lots as people tried to escape the oncoming storm, trapping families in the worst possible place to be. Do you want to see what trying to outrun a tornado looks like? The video is right here:

Now back to the schools. At Briarwood, each grade is organized into four pods with a few classrooms in each pod. An opening to the outside runs through the center of the pods which can be used for escape. Plaza Towers is of traditional construction, where all of the classrooms are in a long line under one roof. When the school collapsed, the roof and walls fell on top of each other, leaving no escape path. And while both schools had practiced tornado drills, neither had a safe room, which could have potentially saved lives. Have you looked into the construction of your children’s schools and gotten involved to ensure that your school board has the proper plans, procedures, and supplies in place to protect them when disaster strikes?

While we are on the subject, what about your home?  If you live in an area with extreme weather conditions, do you have a safe room (this would include a properly designed and equipped storm cellar) and have you completed a disaster recovery planning checklist? The Red Cross suggests that everyone get a kit, make a plan, and stay informed. Living in northern California puts me in earthquake central, and unlike hurricanes, tornadoes, or severe weather, we don’t get any advanced warning.

I work for SunGard Availability Services and our Crisis Management Team monitors severe weather that could affect us and our customers. As you can imagine, we have our own checklist that we go through whenever we see something barreling down on us our our customers. While it might be more suited to a company, it could also be a good start to building your own disaster recovery planning checklist. That blog entry is here.

So that’s about it for this post, but I’ll say it once again; Get a kit, make a plan, and stay informed. And above all, ensure that your friends and family do the same.



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