If some of you out there don’t know it yet, I’m away from my home area working one of my jobs in another state. I’ve been gone for just over a month at the time I write this and I haven’t gotten my end date quite yet. I may be here a while longer.
Last night I came back into my hotel room and turned on the TV to find none other than Jim Cantore on the screen talking about my home area. Apparently, the wrath of Mother Nature isn’t limited just to other areas of the country. My area took it pretty hard last night and thank goodness there weren’t any injuries.
My girlfriend (Oh yea, I have one of those now by the way, which you would know if you followed me on Facebook or Twitter) was driving my car during the storm and just happened to drive right into the heart of the gust line, the leading edge of this monster storm. She ended up taking the brunt of it and had to leave the car and take cover in a ditch (Which by the way, is the smart thing to do) she got scraped up a little bit by flying debris and all; but thank goodness… the car is fine. (Love ya honey!)
This storm blew up quickly and just exploded out there. To my knowledge, there wasn’t a tornado formed, but the wind gusts were reported at upwards of 80mph and were forecast to hit over 100mph. The rain was torrential and the storm lasted a long time, lashing the area with high winds for quite a while. It was a bad one, but thankfully not as bad as other areas of the country have been getting. There was some damage, and my local Facebook buddies have been posting pictures of it on their accounts all morning. It could have been much worse, but it was pretty bad by itself. It certainly was a wake-up call.
Talking to my girlfriend on the phone last night after her scary ordeal she told me how she figures she was able to be caught off-guard by the storm. While she drives, she listens to MP3s rather than listening to the radio and therefore did not hear any severe weather warnings. She said that as soon as she saw how bad the storm was getting that she turned on the local radio, but by then it was too late… she had driven right into the path of the oncoming fury. A few days prior to this, I had discussed with her the possibility of employing underground storm shelters in our area and she said how she thought it was overkill. She didn’t think that we had bad enough weather in our area. I assured her we do get bad enough storms often enough, but the conversation didn’t go much further. Storm preparedness, like fire safety, is not a flashy topic. It doesn’t seem to be taken seriously until after something happens. However, as Mother Nature has proven to us this season, we need to be prepared.
The girlfriend is a smart lady, very smart actually. She’s not one to be taken off-guard by anything and can handle most anything that comes. This, however, was a surprise to her and I’m sure it surprised a lot of other people as well. It’s not that we don’t get storms like that in my area, in fact they come quite frequently, but people are still complacent about them. They just don’t think that it could ever get that bad, no matter what they see on the news happening in other areas. There are a lot of things in our society that are affected by our natural tendency to become complacent in our contemporary lifestyles. There are lots of things we just seem to forget can happen to us when we’re caught unaware by the realities of our world. Everything from storm preparedness, to fire safety, to cardiovascular health, to crime prevention, to drinking and driving, to most of the behaviors that keep EMS in business can be attributed to this fact. It’s just how we’re wired, I think.
If I can offer you all out there any advice, it would be to consistently remind yourself of the need to be aware of your surroundings. Maybe it’s the fact that as a paramedic my life is spent cleaning up the messes of the more unwary of those among us, but I tend to believe that most “accidents” can be attributed in most part to a lack of planning and situational awareness. I don’t want anyone to be afraid of living their lives, but keeping an eye on the horizon seems prudent these days. Don’t be caught off guard. I need all of my readers out there and want you to be safe.
Also, if you’re driving and you see or suspect severe weather, turn on the radio and turn off the CD or the MP3 so you can hear emergency broadcasts. It might just save your life.
Have you been to these websites yet?
- www.NHC.NOAA.GOV ß I love this site
- http://www.fema.gov/emergency/reports/index.shtm <– A daily read for me, every day FEMA puts out the “National Situation Update (SitRep). It is a wealth of information and I strongly suggest you start reading it too.
- www.IcanHasCheezburger.com ß Funny pictures of cats… because this disaster stuff gets depressing some times.
As always folks, stay safe out there.