This community knows very well what these other states are going through right now, as they embark on a long and tedious process of rebuilding their homes and their lives.
I was pleased and informed to read the Cleveland Daily Banner’s “Road to Recovery” issue dated May 27. It was a fitting tribute to the thousands of our emergency first responders who continue to work in the aftermath and also to the memory of the nine who lost their lives on that tragic day.
The special edition took me back to 1974 when this community was last struck by tornadoes, but that event was not the magnitude of the EF1 and EF4 strengths we experienced in April of this year.
I remember the events of the 1974 tornadoes and how his community rallied together to help those affected. I was involved in the broadcast media at the time and recall the tragedy and devastation as we traveled across the county surveying the damage.
Then on April 28-29, I recall flying over this beautiful countryside and seeing how many lives, homes and businesses were affected by the five tornadoes that swooped down April 27.
I couldn’t help but compare the 1974 and 2011 events and realize a major difference today is the advanced warnings and technology that have evolved when it comes to weather alerts and warnings.
Even though we knew severe weather was on its way, it did not prepare us for what we experienced on that day.
Though severe weather warnings and alerts came throughout the day, we were still not prepared for the aftermath. So often people confuse the difference between a Tornado Watch and Tornado Warning.
Simply put, a “watch” is tornadoes are possible, so remain alert, listen to media.
A “warning” is issued by the National Weather Service when Doppler radar indicates tornado formation or a tornado has been sighted by a trained weather spotter, and you should take shelter immediately.
The NOAA Weather Radios with battery backup and tone alert feature are now readily available and should be a “must have” item now in households, along with a battery-powered commercial radio and extra batteries.
Many people have told me this tragedy has made them take note of their own safety for the future. They are taking action — better preparing their children and family members on safety tips for not only tornadoes, but other weather threats as well. Keeping the NOAA radios and a disaster supply kit is important as well as making sure family members know where the safe places are in your home or neighborhood.
Mayor Davis and I both appreciate the Banner’s special publication and the proceeds being geared to benefit the consolidated Cleveland-Bradley Disaster Relief Fund of our Mayors’ Coalition which is coordinated through United Way. This is an ongoing project and we both realize it will take a long, long time to help people get their lives back in order from this tragedy. We both sincerely appreciate this kind gesture.
The days following April 27 have shown what a strong, compassionate and giving community we have here in Cleveland and Bradley County.
In the years to come, as we look back to April 27, 2011, and the damage the five tornadoes left behind, the Banner’s special issue of the “First 30 days to Recovery” will be a keepsake as a reminder of how grateful we should be for where we have come since this tragedy.
Not only is this a keepsake for historical data, but it will also be a guide for donors who wish to support the recovery of our community in this rebuilding process.
So many who experienced severe damage were caught unprepared and oftentimes tornadoes can develop so rapidly there is no visible advance warning. But being prepared for an emergency is important and one that we should all take seriously.
Thanks to the Banner for chronicling these “First 30 Days” and to the many, many who are coming forward to help us secure funds to rebuild our community in the years ahead.
The Cleveland and Bradley County community is truly blessed with caring, compassionate citizens who help one another. I witness this daily.