Editorial: Never too soon to be prepared

Terre Haute Tribune-Star

Easter Sunday was a somber holiday for the people of Sullivan as they observed the one-year anniversary of a deadly tornado that tore through the south side of their community with devastating force and consequences.

The EF-3 twister was part of a supercell storm system that developed late on March 31, 2023, southwest of Crawford County, Illinois. It first struck near Robinson, killing three people and leaving a trail of damage. It then crossed the Wabash River into Indiana, striking first southwest of Sullivan before ripping its way through the town. In its wake, it left three more dead, numerous others injured and a neighborhood destroyed.

The tornado retreated into the clouds, but the system spawned another tornado a short time later in Owen County near Spencer, where it struck hardest in a McCormick’s Creek State Park campground, killing two additional individuals.

Recovery for Sullivan has been a long, hard road. As the community mourned the three lives lost, it tended to the injured, helped those who suffered extensive property damage and set out on a path of repairing and rebuilding for the long term.

The work done in Sullivan in the past 12 months has been inspiring and impressive. Progress hasn’t come easy, and at times has been painfully slow. But the commitment and dedication of those who stepped forward to lead the efforts merit admiration and praise.

As if we need more reminders of what Mother Nature is capable of when it wields its power, the Midwest has already been subjected to deadly spring weather this year. It’s always wise to be prepared for when storm clouds begin to form.

Weather alerts are available from various emergency management services and can come directly to your mobile phone. Having those set up is a good idea and will help you stay aware of potentially dangerous weather conditions, especially in spring and summer.

Emergency officials also suggest families put together a few supplies as well as a plan of what to do if severe weather strikes at home, at work, at school or out shopping should crucial services such as power or water be interrupted.

Anyone who saw the images from the recent storm near Winchester east of Muncie can see how vital services can disappear in a matter of minutes.

Officials recommend families gather enough non-perishable food and water for each person — one gallon per person per day — for at least a week. And don’t forget family pets.

Kits should contain extra medications; battery-operated radios with extra batteries; flashlights with extra batteries; phone chargers to use if power is available or in a vehicle; a substantial first aid kit; cash — ATMs don’t work when the power is off — and copies of important documents.

Families should also rehearse their response plans so everyone knows what to do. Where will family members meet? Where are the safe places at work or school? Where do you go if a storm hits while you’re in a store? How will members let each other know whether he or she is safe? Text messages are more likely to work than calls during rough weather.

Midwesterners can sometimes become jaded about weather warnings. They can be easy to tune out. That’s a mistake. The stakes are high, to which the folks in Sullivan and Winchester can attest.

Take steps now to prepare for hazardous weather. Waiting until thunderheads darken the horizon may be too late.

Send comments to [email protected].