Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tuscaloosa Tornado

The networks all cover disasters in a "big picture" (literally video from a helicopter window) sort of way with a few 30 second interviews with survivors. Such coverage doesn't help you understand the details what went on: what worked & what didn't.

I thought it might be instructive if we took a longer report from a real survivor. Scoutmom lived through, and is reporting on, the aftermath of the Tuscaloosa Tornado on April 27 2011. I'm picking out and quoting here a few of her more pertinent statements as the original is hard to read. [My comments are in black.] Hers are in red. I urge you to click on the link and read her full story for a deeper insight into what it's like to go through something like this.

so ok by now you guys know of the devastation and have seen the pictures and videos. … everyone was safe in my family but we lost a friend who for whatever reason wouldn't leave her mobile home. The tornado picked up her doublewide trailer and blew it to bits. They found peices everywhere. She was in the bathtub. …


Someojne got hit with a flying washing machine and a friend's trampoline was up on a telephone pole. ... (The guys ribs were broken, it's just a strange story).


People had PLENTY of warning.


One mistake we made was we left our radio at home, thinking that the people we were visiting
[taking shelter with] had one. ... NO RADIO! I coulda shot my husband!

Some people had phones that could get info, but it was very scary, not knowing, not being connected. The basement we were in was made into a hill. Some of the basement is even with the ground and you can go out a door right onto the level ground. The further back into the basement you go, you are underground. We had already sent the children into the back room and had bike and motorcycle helmets on as many as we could.

[Good thinking !]

We had pillows and blankets and had them on the floor. I imagine the men were trying to look outside, but suddenly they all started saying GET IN THE BACK.

[Typical men, shove the women & kids to safety then let their curiosity draw them into danger. Hey guys, who's going to take care of you kids and ladies after your gone? Act like an adult; get in the back with them.]


I was so upset to not have our radio!

This was her main complaint throughout the ordeal, don't let it by yours.

The cell phones weren't working, of course the power was still off.


People had come out of everywhere with trucks and chain saws. I was trying to call or text people to see if it was over, the cell phone was working intermittingly.


[When they tried to drive home they encountered a new set of problems.]

The roads were all blocked, we inched our way and by now traffic was thick as everyone had come out to see what was goin on and to try to reach loved ones. We finally pulled over and walked.


The cell phones were ringing like crazy as everyone was trying to contact each other. ...

Translation: Don't expect to be able to call for help or contact anyone by cell phone. Yeah, I know, we all "know" that; but do you plan for it?

We decided to go home and sleep at our trailer since we found out that the storms were over for us. People were already talking about looters so we wanted to be home.

We had a radio and some of the stations were covering nothing but the storm reports. ... They were our only sourse of information. ... Someone from a town called one of the first nights and said they were on their last candle.


[Do I have to say it? Lots of candles & extra batteries.]

Mistakes I made: My husband and I had NO CASH ( I know, I know, stupid) Stores could not take credit or debit bc the power was out. We did not have full tanks of gas. Neighbors were telling us not to go "driving around" to see the damage, to conserve our gas. We found out later that in some parts of Alabama people actually ran out of gas on the interstate bc gas stations couldn't pump.

[Expect lots of "Cash Only" signs in stores and non-working ATM's and gas stations after a disaster. And try to always keep your vehicle's gas tanks at least half full.]

I think the other stuff we were good on. We had plenty of food. We could have made it for at least a week with no power. We have a camp stove and propane lanterns, flashlights etc. We had enough water, our water didn't shut off but in some places it did and in other places they were twelling people not to drink the water without boiling it first, We had ways to charge our phones and stuff.

[She doesn't say, but I'll assume a solar charger or maybe charging from their car through and adaptor. Do you have an adaptor or solar panel to charge your cell phone and or portable radios]

I would like to recommend a radio that we had recently purchased. (the opne we left home, lol) It is a Red Cross Emergency Radio. It was $40 at Radio Shack. It gets regular stations and weather too. it can work on triple A batteries, solar or wind up. I think it has a 4th option but I don't know about it. We have listened to that thing day and night.

[The forth option is AC via a USB adapter (not included).]

When I finally was able to see my city ( we are rural in the county) I was shocked. Pictures do not show the devastation. The Red Cross is here. the National Guard is here. They actually have to be stationed in certain places to keep looters out. Samaritans Purse is here. Many. many volunteers are here. My daughter in law is in charge of a local distribution center at a local church. Every church is doing something, organizing, collecting, feeding people, something. The radio stations and facebook have been extremely instrumental in getting needs met.

I am exhausted so I will close this for now.

Later she updates her report. Click here.


Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:
I've just received my dead tree copy of Backwoods Home magazine and am, once again, impressed with the quality and thoroughness of the articles.

The July & August issue has (along with about a dozen other articles) a well written and well illustrated article on building and stocking a Survival Storeroom by David Eddings.

And yes, you can read old articles online (you'll be able to read Eddings article a few months from now) BUT unless you plan to download and printout all the articles every issue you won't have access to this fountain of knowledge when the power goes out. That's why I urge you to subscribe to the dead tree edition and begin building your library now.

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