Handling Tornado Aftermath!

Red Cross RescuerFor you, or for those with friends and family struggling with tornado damage, here is a bit of help that should get you thinking about what to do first.

Of course, your loved ones are wondering about you, and you can register at this lovely Red Cross Safe and Well site, to let them know you still exist somewhere!

After that, though, you need someone who can think for you, so here goes—a list to clear your mind get it going in the right direction:

1. Credit Cards

If all your personal banking and credit information is strewn all over the state, I’m so sorry to have to say: You need to cancel cards and put alerts on all your accounts. Call your bank and credit agencies and get their help. Probably a password on your social security number will be important.

2. Insurance

Of course, all major insurance agencies are looking up client addresses and preparing to be in your area soon, to save you time and grief. However, if you put in your claim now, you will be at the top of their list. So put in your claim. Don’t forget anything you have insured: house, car, pet, jewelry, etc.

3. Red Cross

Clara Barton would be so proud! The merciful volunteer group she started is still there to help you. Somewhere nearby you will find their trained volunteers being great help. Food, supplies, and shelter are their specialties. You likely have donated to their great cause; now reap from their good will and the storehouse of help you helped build.

4. FEMA

If your disaster receives federal relief, FEMA will be there to get you more lasting shelter, either through help with rent, or loan of trailers. Their trailers may be a shocking difference from the comforts of home, but they are furnished and will keep the weather off and the family together. Or you may prefer to purchase a camper to live on your own property. Many folks do.

5. Helpers – belongings.

You will need to sort your stuff, to find what you want to keep, in a hurry. You will want people you know and trust for this job, not strangers, no matter how kind. Do not throw out things that are only wet. There are even volunteers who will want to help you restore wet photos and other important things.

6. Helpers – trash.

You will probably have to sort all the trash on your property for pick up. Let anyone who wants to help you! And many are eager and willing and able to help! Your job will be to make sure they wear their gloves and to provide them with plenty of drinking water, if you can.

7. Rebuilding

Look for scammers. They will come. Be sure. Be very sure that anyone you hire to rebuild is for real. Victimization happens every day.

8. Smile (through your tears)

You are surrounded by support, helpers who want to see you make it through this horror. Therefore, ask for help! Don’t give up! You will find that people really want to give you help! Don’t give up hope! Don’t forget to stop and rest, eat, get sleep! For some reason, you are alive…

9. Special for all helpers:

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is stand back. Allow the professionals to have some space. Allow the victims to have some space. Do not assume you are the answer for this emergency. If you want to donate, please wait with clothing until the shelters say it is needed. What they REALLY need is

  • food, water
  • boxes, bags
  • gloves, masks, eye gear
  • boots
  • undies
  • formula, bottles, diapers
  • feminine items

Donate the above to shelters, Red Cross, churches, etc.

  • pet food, leashes, old towels, walking services

Donate these to animal shelters

If everyone who needs help will be smart enough to ask for it, and if everyone who is aching to be of some help will be smart enough to give it gently and wisely, our disasters will prove to be beautiful learning experiences for us all.

Do you live where tornadoes happen often?

Tornadoes are extremely rare in Utah, but down...
Tornadoes are extremely rare in Utah, but downtown Salt Lake City was struck by this F2 tornado in 1999, which killed one person. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maybe I should ask, “Do you live in the United States?” because the U.S. has the most tornadoes in the world.

You thought so, didn’t you!

From 1950, when we began to keep official records, here are the 10 states that have the most tornadoes per square mile, in order of greatest to least.

  1. Florida
  2. Kansas
  3. Maryland
  4. Illinois
  5. Mississippi
  6. Iowa
  7. Oklahoma
  8. South Carolina
  9. Alabama
  10. Louisiana

Surprised? Me too. However the states that have the most notorious tornadoes are not all up there and some of the above states have lots of teensy tornadoes that don’t do much. Your highest chances of experiencing the most damaging tornado are in the following five states:

Alabama, Texas, Iowa, Kansas, or Oklahoma
They’re all tied for first.

Scared yet?

Okay, I publish this annually in one form or another, in hopes of allaying some of your anxiety about this life and death topic. This year, it’s just a list of links, but if you search “tornado” in the search window above (click on the magnifying glass for a nice surprise) you will find a few more curiosities on the subject.

Pay attention and live:

How to Prepare for Tornado Weather

Ten Steps to Tornado Safety

Story of My Tornado Experience

Story of a Stranger Who Borrowed Our House in a Tornado

A tornado near Seymour, Texas
A tornado near Seymour, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is your phobia?

WomenBlogger-MainI write on Arkansas Women Bloggers’ Website, today, about what used to be my phobia, and once you read it, you will know why it was my fear and how I got rid of it.

For more excitement you can read some of my posts about fear:

And finally, before you skip on over to Arkansas Women Bloggers, allow me to tell you a story about a daughter of a friend of mine. I’ll call her Emily.

Emily was a newly wed and at first, she and her husband lived in her parents’ hunting cabin, in the form of an old trailer house, near a river around here, while they worked to build up savings and tried to find the perfect house. They also needed to buy the furniture for their new life and had just purchased a brand new hide-a-bed couch and had placed in the living room of that trailer house. On a whim, one night, they decided to try out the mattress inside that new couch.

That night, unbeknownst to them, a tornado approached and tried to take their lives. However, since they were asleep in the hide-a-bed when it hit and lifted and rolled the trailer house, their “bed” folded up upon them and enclosed them in that brand new mattress while all the jumble of being in a tornado was going on.

They escaped unharmed except for bruises.

After examining the damage they realized the rest of the miraculous protection they had received that night: In their bedroom, where they might have been except for the “random” decision to try out the new mattress in the living room, they found the dresser had landed on the mattress of their bed and had cut it into two pieces.

They would have been dead except…

Before very long they bought a beautiful, old. two-story house in the graceful section of town and another tornado hit, toppling an old oak tree directly into their upstairs bedroom. They were not at home, another “random” decision, this time to accept an impromptu dinner invitation.

After that, Emily was convinced she was the safe one during tornadoes.

We live where large-scale farmers grow tomatoes for market. Emily’s job was humble, working in the tomato fields alongside migrant workers, picking tomatoes.

It pays.

One day, as they all were working, a tornado approached, visibly, and, of course, all the workers were terrified.

Except for Emily..

She firmly commanded all the migrant workers–who all were men–to gather around her, as she claimed God would not let a tornado harm her. They believed her, and like a mother hen, Emily enclosed all those men very close to her, wrapping her arms around them, and they all prayed, not all in English.

The tornado lifted.

She was right.

And I aim to be like her, someday.

Okay, NOW go on over to Arkansas Women Bloggers and learn more about my old phobia!

An Odd Egg

What a difference in these two eggs! Each appeared during this flip-flop season we call “spring”.

odd eggs

Odd Eggs

Spring is such a time of turmoil in our area—flower and leaf buds popping out everywhere, new birth, chickens beginning the new laying season, tornadoes—I wonder how we survive it.

Spring’s natural beauty forces us to love her. The amazing fragrances and forms of blooming things, the pearlescence of eggshells and the fragility of baby chicks, the mew of kittens, the peeping of hidden frogs, all work on us, draw us to that perennial love affair with spring.

So we roll up our sleeves, kick off our shoes, and pull our hair up into ponytails to catch the sun on our skin. We pull weeds, freshen flags, mow too soon, plant too soon—anything to be outdoors, to come inside smelling like spring. We paint lawn furniture, divide potted plants, and attend herbal festivals, filling our lives with projects to prepare us for spring.

But no-yolk and double-yolk eggs most remind me of spring. My dad had a collection of odd eggshells that appeared on the same day as tornadoes. He always said the tornado scared the hens and caused them to lay odd eggs. I think he believed that. Maybe it is true. He labeled each shell with the date of its corresponding tornado and displayed them on egg cups, for which they were far too large or far too small. He always loved curiously humorous events.

He’s been gone, now, about 12 years. So much has changed. I doubt he ever guessed I’d be telling the whole world about his eggshell collection, one day. I doubt he ever guessed what an impact he had, in the daily humor of life.

But I do not doubt he lived life, squeezed everything he could out of it, love it, with one hand held palm-upward, trusting, waiting for some blessing to fall into it, be it only an odd eggshell.

And he was not disappointed.