Preparation could be difference in life and death

Published 9:44 pm Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tuesday I had the opportunity to cover a disaster preparedness forum at Wallace Community College Selma. Although the point was to be prepared for any type of disaster, being weather prepared stuck out the most to me.

Technology has become key in helping save lives when it comes to weather, but Mother Nature still has a way of deciding exactly what she wants to do and when.

I watched as the different students and faculty members marched into the room, knowing that some of them were probably only there because they had to go for class. But what they may not have realized is that hour of tips on getting prepared could save their life one day.

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As a freshman at the University of Alabama, I stood outside of my dorm room in awe of a tornado a half mile wide ripping through the city of Tuscaloosa.

James Spann was live on ABC 33/40 explaining the situation and giving us a minute-by-minute update of what was happening. I remember sitting there watching a tornado on the screen.

The sirens were going off, and it started to rain. Not hard, just a sprinkle. Then it stopped. That’s when my friend Jacy Davis and I decided to walk outside and see what was going on.

Once we realized what was happening, we quickly made our way to her bathroom and in the tub.

After a while, we went outside to see a clear sky and only minimal damage. We were lucky enough to be on the other side of campus from where the disaster really struck.

Later that night I decided that I wanted to leave Tuscaloosa and head home to Dothan, not having any idea about the severe damage.

I packed up my things, in the dark,and headed out. What I would find on my way was my worst nightmare.

There were sights that I can never unsee. I developed a deep appreciation for life after that drive.

After a long night, I ended up in Demopolis and stayed the night there before heading home the next day. I was finally able to get online and watch the news and really take in what had happened to the town I called home.

My friend Courtney’s apartment was destroyed by the tornado, and I remember crying, talking on the phone with her when I found out she was OK.

Unfortunately, so many people were not OK. It was reported that there were 238 tornado-related deaths in Alabama, and many of those from Tuscaloosa.

That’s why the disaster preparedness forum at Wallace really stood out to me as a great way to get informed and be ready. Disasters happen, and sometimes no matter how prepared you are, there is nothing you can do to prevent it. But it sure doesn’t hurt to be ready, and have a plan for when something does happen.