Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

May 22, 2013

Dealing with the physical, financial aspects of storms


Mineral Wells Index

— By CHRIS AGEE



As weather conditions across the middle of the nation continue to set the stage for major storms, victims are left picking up the pieces.

According to meteorologists, the massive tornado that decimated Moore, Okla., Monday released as much as 600 times more energy than the Hiroshima bomb. That twister killed at least 24 and caused untold property damage.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers a comprehensive list of tips to remember before, during, and after the devastating effects of a tornado.

Preparing an emergency kit and communicating a family’s plan of action are important steps to take before the threat of a tornado, according to FEMA’s website, ready.gov. Individuals should also look for changing weather conditions and rely on local media and emergency management officials for instructions.

As a tornado approaches, finding adequate shelter is key.

For those in a permanent structure such as a residence or building, individuals should report to a pre-designated shelter area. If a storm shelter or basement is not available, FEMA suggests waiting out the storm in the center of an interior room on the lowest level and away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.

Never open windows during a tornado, the agency warns.

Mobile homes are not safe during a tornado and occupants of such residences should leave immediately to find shelter in a nearby building.

Those outside during a tornado are urged to drive to the closest sturdy shelter.

Flying debris causes most fatalities and injuries, the agency explains, noting motorists in vehicles hit by debris should pull over and park, keeping head and hands covered and seat belts fastened.

Lying in a low, flat location is safer than seeking shelter under an overpass or bridge.

Continue to monitor emergency broadcasts following a tornado and do not attempt to move seriously injured individuals unless they further injury is imminent, FEMA concludes.

For more information on this and other emergency preparedness tips, visit ready.gov.

In dealing with the financial impact of a devastating storm, Gary Stephenson of State Farm recommends three simple steps: report, repair, and record.

Storm victims should immediately contact their agent or insurer before making initial repairs to prevent further damage. Finally, provide a list of damages, if possible.

Stephenson also offered advice in making repair decisions. Never pay in advance or in cash, he said, suggesting individuals contact their respective insurance agent before hiring a contractor.

He advised using caution in dealing with pushy repairmen and recommended hiring local workers with trusted recommendations.

Professional contractors will have proper proof of insurance, he added, suggesting storm victims request such proof before deciding on a provider.