Valdosta Daily Times

June 8, 2013

Storms: Of preparation and prayer

The Valdosta Daily Times

-- — If you haven’t already, maybe this morning in church would be a good time to say a prayer of thanks that Tropical Storm Andrea blessed us with some much-needed rain while sparing us the overwhelming catastrophe that weather has wreaked upon the Midwest in recent weeks.

It is not unusual for Valdosta and South Georgia to feel the effects of tropical storms and hurricanes coming through the Gulf and the Atlantic, but it is rare that Lowndes County falls directly in the path of impact as we did with Andrea.

Last Thursday morning, every weather map had Valdosta directly in the storm’s path by late afternoon or nightfall. By Thursday evening, after a day of rain, the eye passed above us but the skies remained relatively calm.

Some area folks lost power, but we did not lose our homes. Some people remained vigilant for potential flooding, but we did not as a community have to face the shattered remnants of entire neighborhoods. Had it been worse, hopefully everyone would have been prepared. South Georgia had hours to hunker down, purchase potential supplies, check our flashlights, rearrange our schedules so we were off the roads, while area governments and emergency personnel prepared to deal with what may or may not come.

Compare those hours of warning with the scant 16 minutes of warning received by the people living in the destructive path of recent tornadoes in Oklahoma. Within 16 minutes, they went from living their lives to putting their lives back together ... and those were the more fortunate ones. Some lost everything including their loved ones and lives.

From experience we know, South Georgia is not impervious to the sudden impact of tornadoes. As this week established again, we are in a geographical position that makes us susceptible to the paths of tropical storms and hurricanes.

If forecasters issue tornado watches and warnings, we must be ready immediately. We should listen for instructions but each individual, family and business should have an already designed plan of action from communication to securing shelter to a meeting place.

Same for the more advanced warnings of a potential tropical storm or hurricane. We have more time to plan in the face of such forecasts, but again each individual, family and business should already have plans in place long before a storm system begins developing in the Atlantic.

Planning can save time, save confusion, and can save lives. Planning and a little prayer when a storm thankfully does not live up to its potential.