Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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July 14, 2013

A reminder to prepare

Roberta Johnson, 74, was baby-sitting three of her grandchildren when an EF-1 tornado touched down west of Peru.

It brought with it 95 mph winds that drove two tree limbs through a wall in her living room on West 2nd Street, where one of the children had been moments before.

“I’m just glad nobody got hurt,” Johnson said. So are we.

The tornado that uprooted 100-year-old trees, tore bumpers from vehicles at Paul Richard’s GM Center and damaged homes on West 2nd Street should remind area residents they should be prepared for such storms.

If you haven’t done so already, now’s a good time to put together a disaster plan.

The first thing you should do is assemble blankets, pillows, food, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries so that you’ll be able to stay informed of changing weather conditions.

Your plan should include where you’ll go when a warning is issued. The best place is in one of the innermost rooms of your home, away from windows and doors. If you have no interior rooms in your home, climb in a bathtub and cover your head with pillows or blankets.

If you’re caught outside, a car is not a good place to be in a tornado. If possible, get inside a well-constructed building, but if that’s not possible, find a low-lying area and get on the ground with your legs folded in front of you, your elbows on your legs and your hands clasped over your head.

Tornadoes are violent, rotating cylinders of air that can reach speeds of more than 300 mph. They can be a mile wide and leave a path of destruction 50 miles long.

Tornadoes can appear suddenly with little warning, so minutes, or even seconds, can mean the difference between life and death. A tornado can move several miles in a matter of minutes, so the time to move to your safe place is as soon as you hear the warning.

Anyone with any doubt about the destruction a tornado can bring need look no farther than southern Indiana, where tornadoes on March 2, 2012, literally wiped out whole communities and claimed 13 lives.

The folks in Henryville — and Peru — can tell you that tornadoes are nothing to mess around with.

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