Being prepared when a tornado touches down

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

Tornadic weather can change directions in an instant and destroy everything in its path. Emi FitzGerald spoke with a family who experienced this firsthand.

Tornado survivors say the winds will destroy a home but then leave a nearby car or plant in tact. Its path is unpredictable, but experts say be prepared when seconds count.

A tornado blew through Whitewright on May 9, 2006, destroying homes and claiming lives. The Kimberlin family's mobile home went airborne.

"The boys were 45 feet away, my wife is trapped, me and my 9-year-old daughter were under the house and my 16-year-old daughter went through the wall and landed outside," James Kimberlin says.

Kimberlin does not remember how each of them flew to those places but says the winds came and went in a matter of seconds.

"We just prayed, ‘Lord, help us know what to do!’ We tried to do an action plan, and the thing flipped, and we didn't have time to go anywhere."

Kimberlin says it is a miracle his family survived the storm with nothing but a few scratches, even if their belongings were destroyed. Other families lost loved ones.

When the storms are on their way, emergency management officials say you cannot be prepared enough.

"It’s up to the individual to be conscious of what they're doing outside, what their plans are, to turn the radio on, listen. Turn the TV to local stations," James Dalton of Bryan County Emergency Management says.

"Take the warnings and watches seriously. In my past, I always looked for tornadoes and watched the storm, and it never happened. But I like to tell everybody, it only happens to other people, and all are other people,” Kimberlin says.

Through generous time and donations, the Kimberlins have built a new home on the same property, thankful to have each other as they have rebuilt their lives.

Officials recommend owning a weather radio tuned to local county alerts. Find the storm shelters in your community where you can go at a moment’s notice, and parents talk to your children about emergency plans so everyone is ready.


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