Friday, July 27, 2012

Mother Nature's Angry Return

Photo courtesy
After a summer full of sun and heat, some severe weather returned to the area yesterday. While many of us here in the Buffalo area simply received some much needed rain, other places weren't so lucky. The Southern Tier was hit with severe thunderstorms, and a possible tornado wreaked havoc just over the state border in Pennsylvania. Another possible tornado touched down a little further to our east in Elmira, NY, where the local Red Cross chapter has opened a shelter at the Elmira Free Academy. Volunteers were housing and providing food for as many as 50 residents this morning, and the damage was so severe Gov. Cuomo has declared a state of emergency in Chemung County.

While our thoughts are with everyone dealing with the devastation this wild weather caused, this also serves as a reminder of the importance of emergency preparedness. It's easy to become complacent when the weather is as beautiful as ours has been this summer. But disaster can strike anytime, anywhere, often without warning. If these storms had been just a few miles further north, would you and your family have known where to go to stay safe, or had time to gather needed items like food, water and necessary medications if forced to evacuate?

The time to prepare for an emergency isn't when the severe weather warnings are posted. There are three steps everyone can take that can help make a difference: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed. Take a few minutes now to review these tornado and thunderstorm safety checklists, and consider scheduling a free disaster preparedness education program at your school, business or other organization.

When a disaster does hit, you can find Red Cross shelter locations online, and you can download the shelter finder app on your iphone. You can also register as Safe & Well, which is a great way to let your loved ones know that you are okay. Make sure that when Mother Nature decides to make her next visit, you are Red Cross Ready!

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