The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Breaking News

CNHI Special Projects

May 5, 2013

Tornado veterans balance preparedness, practicality

(Continued)

Kevin Simmons, an economist at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, has analyzed what it would cost for Oklahoma or Alabama to fund shelters for every single household, and found that it would cost Oklahoma between $5 million and $10 million per tornado-related death and Alabama about $40 million per fatality – an expense that may be hard to justify.

That’s because dying from a tornado is only slightly more likely than being killed by lightning. About 70 people a year are killed by one of about 1,200 tornadoes that hit the United States, according to government data. Lightning kills about 54 people a year.

Even in 2011 – a horrible year with 500 more tornadoes than is typical – the storms killed 553 people. Car accidents, meanwhile, killed about 690 people per week in 2009, and that was an unusually low number.

“If you’re going to force people to spend money, is it logical to force them to spend an extra $10,000 on a house when their biggest risk is dying in a car?” asks Tim Reinhold, chief engineer at the Institute for Business and Home Safety.

For anyone who’s been through a tornado, perhaps the real value of a shelter is peace of mind.

Upgraded Warnings

Rita White experienced an EF-5 tornado in Athens, Ala., in 1974, when she was a seventh-grader. “It was very, very scary,” she said of her memories of that storm, which made the 2011 tornado even worse.

Athens did not change building codes following the May 2011 tornadoes. Limestone County itself has no building codes, even though housing development is happening in unincorporated parts of the county.

The steps Limestone County did take involved getting better at communications and warnings. It added five satellite phones because of troubles with cell phone communications after the tornado, and it built a small call center so volunteers after a storm won’t have to use the desks of the three-person emergency management staff.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
CNHI Special Projects
  • penny_shaw Woman grateful for early diagnosis

    When a doctor told Penny Shaw she had breast cancer this spring, her mind immediately shifted to her two newborn grandchildren.
    “The doctor started telling me about the options for fighting it ... I didn’t hear a thing,” Shaw said.

    October 2, 2013 1 Photo

  • Norman-Tornado16.jpg Audio: How can we better prepare for tornadoes?

    An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.

    May 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • Norman-Tornado08.jpg Photos: Aftermath of massive tornado in Moore Storm victims were pulled from the rubble and residents began surveying the damage late Monday and early Tuesday in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, where a powerful tornado destroyed entire neighborhoods and left dozens dead.

    May 21, 2013

  • MainStory5.IndyQuakeDrill.jpg The Big One: Preparing for mid-America earthquake

    It’s a bleak scenario. A massive earthquake along the New Madrid fault kills or injures 60,000 people in Tennessee. A quarter of a million people are homeless.

    May 19, 2013 3 Photos 3 Stories

  • screenshot salmon.jpg VIDEO: How sequestration could affect US flood warning system

    Oregon and Idaho each had to shut down three water gauges due to automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration. Watch how Idaho relies on these water gauges, from tracking drought conditions to determining stream levels for salmon.

    May 15, 2013 1 Photo

  • MainStory4.ForneyTornadoDamage.JPG Warning Signs: Technology speeds disaster alerts, response

    Technology has changed the way Americans get ready for disasters and respond to them – with more precise forecasts, personalized weather warnings and more efficient recovery efforts. And it will continue to help us be more prepared.

    May 12, 2013 3 Photos

  • Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 3.40.47 PM.png VIDEO: High-tech storm prediction center warns residents of tornadoes

    At the National Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., the team of meteorologists charged with predicting when and where tornadoes may strike rely on ever-changing technology to get the job done.

    May 12, 2013 1 Photo

  • Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 5.11.06 PM.png VIDEO: Misconceptions about predicting tornadoes

    National Weather Center personnel Lans Rothfusz and David Andra speak about the misconceptions the public may have when it comes to the National Storm Prediction Center in Norman.

    May 11, 2013 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 3.33.54 PM.png VIDEO: Take an inside look at storm prediction center

    National Weather Center personnel Lans Rothfusz and David Andra give viewers an idea of the day-to-day happenings at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

    May 9, 2013 1 Photo

  • 800px-Haiti_earthquake_damage.jpg When the earth moves under our feet

    One of the most breath-taking geologic events is a major earthquake. In just a few moments, shaking of the Earth can result in billions of dollars of damage and thousands of lives lost.

    May 8, 2013 1 Photo

Poll

Do you think pet obituaries should be included with death notices?

Yes, my pet is considered a member of the family.
No, pet obituaries are inappropriate.
Pet obituaries should be placed on a different page in the newspaper.
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads