Kansas twister makes training more urgent

Monday, May 7, 2007

Nebraska in general and Red Willow County have good emergency plans in place, and are training more "civilians" to get involved via the Community Emergency Response Team program.

Friday night's disaster at Greensburg, Kan., shows just how important the effort is during this young tornado season.

Not that any amount of preparation could make coping with an F-5 tornado with 205 mph winds roaring through your town an easy task.

But images of scattered rubble where a beautiful little town once stood add a sense of urgency to the "what if" scenarios that form the core of disaster drills that help keep local emergency responders sharp.

And, they should be an incentive to make personal preparations to do what we can to take care of ourselves and our families.

A list of items your emergency kits should include, ranging from food and water, to medicine, special needs, radios, flashlights and documents, cash and credit cards, is available on the Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department's Web site, http://www.swhealthdept.com/disaster.htm

The department's home page is also a wealth of useful information about preparing for, and dealing with disasters.

If we're tempted to think it couldn't happen here, we shouldn't be. All we have to do is think back to June 15, 1990, when an F-4 tornado wound its way from north of Stratton nearly to Stockville. It caused plenty of destruction where it occurred, but had it been a few miles farther south, it could have just as easily struck Stratton, Trenton, Culbertson and McCook.

If it had, we'd have been facing the same decision Greensburg residents are today; how, where and even whether to rebuild.

It won't be an easy decision, given the scope of the destruction.

But Greensburg has a lot going for it; it's the county seat as well as home of the famous hand-dug well and other attractions, if they can be resurrected.

Initially at least, it will be made more difficult because of the war in Iraq. National Guard troops, vehicles and other resources that normally would be pre-positioned around the state to respond to just such an emergency, have been deployed overseas.

We know friends and neighbors far and wide will do all they can to help the community survive.

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