Letter Re: Lessons from the Yazoo City Tornado

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I live in Albertville, Alabama.  We were hit by a tornado Saturday night. The things that I witnessed in Albertville were very similar to that of Yazoo City [which was recently described by another SurvivalBlog reader.]

I would like to add to some things for you to consider:

The tornado in our town stayed above the ground for a large part of the destruction.  This means that if you had trees close to your house, more than likely, you are going to have damage. Do not have trees too close or allow them to get too big.           

A house with a hip-style roof will hold-up better than a gabled roof.

Asphalt shingles actually outlasted tin.  Small portions of asphalt were missing in some people’s houses as opposed to large sections of tin. 

In this region, these storms always come from the West.  Have as few windows as possible on the west side.

More people will watch you work than help you work. 

People will come in and try to take your stuff.  We piled junk on the side of the road that was destroyed.  People had the gall to pick through our stuff as we were piling more onto the pile.  They were making a bigger mess than the tornado.  I explained that if they took one thing they were taking it all.  The woman called me an expletive and gave me the finger.  An officer, who I know, witnessed the whole thing and arrested the lady for hindering a government operation.

People will loot food and vice items quickly.  Convenience stores and grocery stores will be the first looted.

Never ever store anything you will need in an emergency situation in a portable out-building.  It will be scattered all over other people’s yards.

Do not park your camper in your front yard.  It will be in someone else’s yard when you find it.

If your area is impacted by a tornado, be prepared to be hassled.  Even if you know every officer in your town, other agencies will send officers to help and they do not know you.

If the stuff you need is away from your house you might not be able to get to it for many days.  My brother lives on the other side of Albertville.  He was not able to get me the tractor he had borrowed until Sunday afternoon.

Join a Reserve Deputy Program if you can.  The badge will help you get back to your home.

Be on a first name basis with an electrician.  When utility poles are snapped, they will get your house’s power lines ready to be re-connected.

The bottom line is that my family has been reading this blog for several years.  If it was not for SurvivalBlog, we might be one of the guys looking for help instead of being ready to get to work.

I took the [November, 2009] blog post regarding generator preparation to heart, so my generator was ready to work the next morning after the tornado struck.

Thank you Mr. Rawles and thank you to those who post here. I am a better person for it. – JEH