This is why we do what we do people. This is why we prepare.
Unfortunately there’s only so much you can do, and while preparing does save lives nothing is 100% guaranteed. While some students took shelter in a nearby church, at least seven children died at Plaza Towers Elementary School. Given the short warning, sheltering in place was the only option they had left.
Check the photos to see the level of destruction in the before and after images.
The tornado hit fast and 15 minutes is barely enough to find shelter or evacuate to a safe distance. Some people had underground storm shelters and that saved their lives. Others moved a few miles away from the path of the tornado. The general recommendation is to find an underground shelter or cellar, or move to the interior rooms at the lowest level of the building away from doors and windows. Having said that, the tornado completely leveled entire blocks of houses and no person staying inside would have survive using the wood frame structures alone for shelter. With an EF-5 tornado ripping everything around you apart, if you have a shelter you survive, if you don’t you die. It’s that simple.
In tornado prone areas it is crucial to prepare accordingly. Its only because the people in the area are experienced when it comes to tornadoes that there weren’t even more deaths.
Some thoughts that come to mind:
*Have a shelter or identify the nearest one to you.
*Have a NOAA weather emergency radio so as to receive warning and receive updates on the situation, path of the tornado, etc.
*Have a Bug Out Bag ready to go, and keep your passports, birth certificates, titles, emergency cash and other important documents all together in a small travel bag, satchel or fanny pact, something compact that you’ll probably want to leave in a safe. If there’s only one thing you can grab before leaving this will probably be it. Why not keep it together with your BOB? Maybe you don’t have time, maybe you are injured or are carrying a kid and cant deal with a bigger bag. Again folks, 15 minutes to escape is hardly enough time.
*You want a safe which you can access fast under stress. A biometric (fingerprint) safe would be a good idea. Mounting them on the floor means there’s more of a chance for it to remain there even if the house is completely destroyed. Floor safes are more secure and easier to conceal anyway.
*Its not a bad idea to add the GPS waypoint of your house. Rescue personnel both in Oklahoma and the tsunami in Chile and Japan have the exact same thing to say: There’s no streets, no landmarks or buildings anymore, so its very hard to tell where a house used to stand. This isn’t just about finding your floor safe in case you didn’t have enough time to grab it before evacuating, but also about finding people that may be buried in a shelter under the debris.
*If possible, work and live as close as possible from your kid’s school so as to get to them fast during an emergency. I can get to my kids school in ten minutes, probably five if I speed a little. While you can’t plan for everything, being able to get to them fast during an emergency sure helps.