The stormy week recently endured offered plenty of lessons for people in our region.
First and foremost, it reminded us that even in this disconnected age, communities still matter.
An EF2 tornado struck the Morgantown area of Caernarvon Township May 28, bringing with it winds of at least 111 mph, damaging a large number of homes and displacing at least two families. At least one home was leveled by the storm.
It was most fortunate that the storm did not cause any deaths or serious injuries. With a slight variation in its path, it could have been a different and much more tragic story.
As usual, the American Red Cross and local emergency management officials responded to the scene, but in the aftermath of the storm some of the most important work was done by the people affected.
Much of the damage was concentrated in the Country Meadows subdivision. Resident Dominic Caruso spoke of the sense of community that emerged there after the tornado struck.
“Everybody in the neighborhood actually came out last night asking if everybody was OK, if everybody was safe, if anybody needed anything,” he said. “We all kind of gathered together. It was a neat experience from not such a nice experience.”
In the days after the storm residents throughout the affected area were out working together to clean up the debris and bring their neighborhoods back to normal.
In today’s world many people tend to keep to themselves and are much less likely to know their neighbors well, even those who live right next door. Many of us spend far more time in the virtual world of our phones and computers than among the people in our own communities.
But people do need each other, especially in troubling times, and it’s refreshing to see that there’s still a sense of community out there.
Another important lesson from recent storms is that weather alerts must be taken seriously. It might be tempting to tune out tornado watches, severe thunderstorm warnings, and the like. They’re so common this time of year. Most of the time the storms pass without major incident, and there’s a tendency for people here to assume that will be the case every time. The danger might not be as severe as what people in Oklahoma or Ohio face, but the reality is that tornadoes do strike here from time to time. The Denver area in Lancaster County also was hit recently, and there have been other damaging storms over the years.
So when the emergency tones ring on your television set, phone or radio, pay attention to the instructions. If there’s a warning of a severe storm, find a safe, sheltered place, preferably in a basement or lower level and away from windows.
If there’s a strong possibility of flooding, seek higher ground. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters. According to the National Weather Service, it takes only 6 inches of moving water to knock people off their feet. Water on roadways may be deeper than it appears and can hide hazards such as sharp objects, washed out road surfaces, electrical wires, chemicals, etc. A vehicle caught in swiftly moving water can be swept away in seconds; 12 inches of water can float a car or small SUV, and 18 inches of water can carry away large vehicles.
Hopefully we’ll get a respite from the terrible weather of recent days, but there’s no doubt there are plenty of storms to come in the next few months. It’s best to be prepared.
— The Reading Eagle