How to Weather the Weather: Tornado Preparedness

Just how bad are these Southeastern tornadoes? See for yourself

Tornadoes, like this supercell wreaking havoc upon the Great Plains, have left a severely high body count in their wake in the Southeast this week. (Minerva Studio/ThinkStock)
Tornadoes, like this supercell wreaking havoc upon the Great Plains, have left a severely high body count in their wake in the Southeast this week.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says that 46 percent of the U.S. population is not prepared to react intelligently to disasters. In light of a video out of NBC affiliate WTVA in Tupelo, Mississippi, we can safely say that chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan doesn't fall into this category.

As a tornado screeched through Tupelo on April 28, Laubhan—standing in front of a green screen full of tornado-preparedness directions—evenly delivered news of the disaster and encouraged his audience to seek shelter. However, after the green screen malfunctioned and the video feed cut out, Laubhan took charge and ordered his coworkers to abandon ship and seek protection in the station's basement.

Unfortunately, we don't all have Laubhans on hand to funnel us to safety during crises. In consideration of this, FEMA is drawing attention to its educational programs by hosting the America's PrepareAthon! campaign.

FEMA has gotten more than 5 million Americans to sign up for the Spring 2014 PreparaAthon!, a national call to action for people to join the Ready campaign and the National Preparedness Community, since registration opened on March 31. The PrepareAthon! touches down in communities nationwide today in a culminating National Day of Action

Communities have pledged to discuss spring's biggest threats—wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods—using FEMA's plentiful preparedness resources. While FEMA hosts the occasional preparedness training sessions, these campaigns attempt to increase people's self-reliance during disasters. From the PrepareAthon! website:

America's PrepareAthon! provides instructions for educational discussions, simple drills, and exercises for a range of disasters that will help people: understand which disasters could happen in their community; know what to do to be safe and mitigate damage; take action to increase their preparedness; and participate in community resilience planning.

Together, these various FEMA initiatives help people recognize and prepare for disasters. With so many similar yet disconnected campaigns, the PrepareAthon! offers an essential rallying point between them.

If you're the type who gets your panties in a twister at the first sign of danger, consider attending a National Preparedness Community event, taking a preparedness course, or at least reviewing safety materials about tornadoes on FEMA's website.

Tornadoes, which can reach wind speeds of 300 miles per hour over damage paths a mile wide and 50 miles long, have ravaged the Southeast over the past few days. The United States experienced 908 tornadoes in 2013, resulting in 55 deaths, but the death toll for the most recent bout of storms has already reached 36.

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