Georgia has been an area threatened by some of form of natural disaster that has a huge negative impact on the well-being of its residents and the personnel and financial resources of the emergency response agencies. The most common natural disaster that occurs in this area is tornadoes that have terrorized both the rural and urban areas while making everyone in danger of their perils. In the recent years, Georgia experienced deadly tornadoes that caused harm, damages, and deaths in approximately 15 counties within the state. Give the nature of these tragedies, residents of this state need to be prepared and planned on how to respond to such emergencies.
Tornadoes in Georgia:
Tornadoes are regarded as nature's most violent storms since they can generate wind speeds of over 250 mph and appear from nowhere with little warning ("March Marks Start of Active Tornado," n.d.). These natural disasters are the most common one in Georgia as they have continued to occur and cause damages for a long period of time across the state. In the most recent incident, tornadoes terrorized the state's rural and urban areas resulting in three deaths and numerous damages. The major reason for the vulnerability to this disaster by anyone and the huge damages in attributed to their occurrence from nowhere and without warning.
In addition to other tragedies, tornadoes clearly demonstrate the need for Georgians to be prepared, particularly because of their negative impacts. The effects of tornadoes in Georgia can be mitigated through being prepared to act quickly through an established plan and practicing where and how to take shelter. Actually, the common occurrence of these tragedies have resulted in the establishment of various emergency response agencies like GEMA Ready, which encourages residents to prepare, plan, and stay up-to-date regarding tornado threats.
Hazard Risk Assessment:
According to reports on the number of tornadoes that occur annually, Georgia is normally ranked among the leading 15 states. The state is actually ranked as the 13th state in the United States with more tornadoes annually with an estimated average of 20 tornadoes. While there are reported tornadoes across the state in every month, most incidents take place between March and May as well as October to November due to late fall cold fronts ("Georgia Emergency Operations Plan," 2010).
Despite of the numerous of tornadoes in Georgia annually, the state rarely experiences the most devastating tornadoes i.e. EF-4 and EF-5 that are common in the Midwest. However, some of these devastating tornadoes have occurred in Georgia in the recent past. For instance, the state experienced twenty tornadoes in a single day in May 2008, with many of them ranging between EF-0 and EF-4 storms. These storms were preceded by an EF-2 tornado that happened two months earlier in Atlanta resulting in the death of one resident and damages worth millions of dollars.
Since this state has always experienced various tornadoes in the recent past, the likelihood of such tragedies to occur in Georgia have increased. The likelihood of tornadoes to occur in Georgia has resulted in the period between March and May as well as October and November to be known as tornado seasons. In the past 50 years, Georgia has experienced about 1,220 tornadoes including 33 that occurred in the year 2000.
While these tragedies can happen at any time during the day and in any month of the year, they usually take place between 3:00 PM and 9:00 PM during the tornado seasons. These storms tend to typically move from southwest to northeast at an estimated speed of 30 mph though they can move dangerously in any direction. As the storm fronts from tornadoes can advance quickly across the state, the risk of this tragedy is high in all counties in Georgia including those with minimal number of historical tornado events.
In the recent years, advances in technology have increasingly enhanced the forecasting and warning time of tornado like the Doppler radar. However, these storms have continued to occur in Georgia because of the terrain in many parts of this state that makes it difficult to recognize a developing tornado and the limitations of the radar. Consequently, trained amateur radio operators are very important to the National Weather Service in Georgia for the identification of developing tornadoes ("Defining the Need," 2002).
As previously mentioned, the likely occurrence of a tornado has devastating effects on the well-being of residents and the personnel and financial resources of response agencies and teams. Some of the major potential impacts of these storms include significant loss of life, destruction of property and infrastructure, need for temporary housing, increased need for health care services and systems, and increased security demands.
Disaster Plan for a Tornado:
With the increase in the occurrence of tornadoes in Georgia, families and businesses in this area need to prepare, plan, and stay informed regarding such tragedies. There is need for a tornado-specific plan to help in mitigating the effects of such tragedies. The disaster preparedness plan should include the directives and concepts of homeland security as well as the standards of the Incident Command System and National Incident Management System. The plan has three major areas i.e. preparation, planning to take shelter, and communications to the public about tornado threats.
First, it's important to learn about the likelihood and risk of tornadoes in Georgia from the local emergency management office and the office of National Weather Service. The process will also help in the familiarization with the various terms that are used to refer to a tornado risk or hazard. For instance, a tornado watch refers to a likely tornado in the area whereas a tornado warning is used in reference to a tornado that has been identified and requires people to take shelter immediately.
The preparation process for a tornado also involves determining beforehand the place to shelter in case of a tornado warning. In Georgia, some of the most suitable places to shelter are storm cellars or basements because they offer the best protection. It's important for families and businesses to consider having reinforcement to their tornado safe place since it adds more protection from the devastating effects of storms. These efforts will be conducted through the guidelines provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on building a tornado safe room.
Moreover, the preparation for a tornado in Georgia also includes the proper programming of NOAA Weather Radios and arranging a ready kit of supplies that may be necessary after a tragedy. Through its tone-alert feature for watches and warnings, the NOAA Weather Radio will be used as a community warning system. The communities will be educated regarding the process with which the watches and warnings are issued, particularly through county or parish names. Since many communities in Georgia have siren systems, they will be taught and encouraged to differentiate between the siren's warnings for tornado watch and tornado warning ("Tornadoes: Being Prepared," 2007).
Conducting periodic tornado drills will also be an important part of disaster preparedness to ensure that the residents remember what to do in case of an approaching tornado. Families will be encouraged to practice going to a designated safe place in response to the likelihood of a tragedy. This process is critical because it makes the suitable response a reaction that requires minimal thinking time during an actual tragedy situation.
After the preparation stage, the next phase in disaster preparedness is to plan to take shelter in the event of a tornado tragedy. The residents are advised to take shelter immediately after they see a funnel cloud or after a tornado warning. In this case, underground shelter is the most suitable place though people can go to an interior room on the lowest possible floor if the underground shelter is unavailable. A building with a strong foundation is also…