Moultrie Observer

Local News

February 24, 2012

Little damage from Friday storm

GEMA urges residents to be prepared for next time

MOULTRIE — Colquitt County rolled the dice with a severe thunderstorm Friday and came up a winner.

The storm that blew through late in the morning and early in the afternoon packed damaging winds and hail, but county authorities said damage here was limited to some downed trees in wooded areas and limbs scattered around.

In surrounding counties, though, the National Weather Service is reporting a barn and a tree blown down in Tift County and various damage in Camilla and near Cotton in Mitchell County.

There was a report of a tornado detected by the NWS near Hartsfield, but that has not been confirmed and, if it did occur, it did not appear to have touched down.

The storm came through one week before the start of the official tornado season on March 1, but tornadoes pay no attention to the calendar: Friday was 10 days after the anniversary of a tornado that killed 20 people in Mitchell and Worth counties on Feb. 14, 2000.

Because disasters are, by their very nature, unpredictable, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency urges residents to be prepared.

“March is the start of Georgia’s official tornado season, and we want to ensure that all residents are prepared for the violent and unpredictable nature of tornadoes,” said Charley English, director of GEMA/Homeland Security. “Tornadoes are a real threat in Georgia and they can strike with almost no warning, so the best way to keep yourself and your family safe is to prepare now.”

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), tornadoes are the No. 1 severe weather-related killer in Georgia, GEMA reported. They have proven to be some of nature's most violent storms, appearing with little warning and generating wind speeds that can exceed 250 mph. Though tornadoes can occur any day of the year, the height of the season runs from March through May. The best way to mitigate the effects of a tornado is to have a plan in place and practice how and where to take shelter.

To help people prepare for tornadoes and other emergencies, GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign provides online tools to make a disaster supply kit, develop a tailored communications plan and stay informed about potential threats. Website visitors can also find local emergency contact information and read preparedness testimonials from local sports stars. Children’s games and activities can be found on the ReadyKids page, and households with pets or elderly or disabled family members will find specific information on preparing for severe weather. Visit www.ready.ga.gov for more.

For preparedness on the go, families can download Ready Georgia’s free mobile app to learn how to prepare for emergencies, create family communications plans and more. More than 20,000 Georgians have already downloaded the app, which turns an iPhone or Android smartphone into an invaluable preparedness tool by providing mobile access to emergency contact information, a list of Ready kit supplies and even local shelter locations in the wake of a disaster. It can be downloaded at www.ready.ga.gov/mobileapp.

Ready Georgia reminds residents of the following important information to prepare, plan and stay informed about tornadoes:

 

Prepare for a tornado

• Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify tornado hazards: a tornado watch means a tornado is possible in your area; a tornado warning means a tornado has been spotted in your area, and you need to take shelter immediately.

• Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning.

• Prepare a Ready kit of emergency supplies, including a first aid kit, NOAA Weather Radio and a three-day supply of food and water.

 

Plan to take shelter

• If local authorities issue a tornado warning or if you see a funnel cloud, take shelter immediately.

• Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection.

• If underground shelter is not available, go into an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.

• Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls. Go to the center of the room. Stay away from corners because they attract debris.

• A vehicle, trailer or mobile home does not provide good protection. Plan to go quickly to a building with a strong foundation, if possible.

• If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

• Stay in the shelter location until the danger has passed.

 

Stay informed about tornadoes

• Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for official news and instructions as they become available.

• After a tornado, be sure to remain out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines.

• Help injured or trapped people. Check on others who may require special assistance, such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities.

For more information on preparing for severe weather, contact the Colquitt County Emergency Management Agency at 616-7470 or visit www.ready.ga.gov or www.gema.ga.gov.

 

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