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Examiner
  • Diane Mack: Emergency preparedness advice: Keep your shoes on

  • Twelve years ago, our family was in a serious car accident. Our van, carrying six family members, flipped on Interstate 80 outside Rock Springs, Wyo. We were headed to meet our other three college children over Thanksgiving.

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  • Twelve years ago, our family was in a serious car accident. Our van, carrying six family members, flipped on Interstate 80 outside Rock Springs, Wyo. We were headed to meet our other three college children over Thanksgiving.
    Other than addressing the injuries of five family members, the ambulances transport of the injured, and my staying behind to collect our personal items strewn across a half mile stretch of Interstate 80, my greatest concern was my feet.
    While traveling, I had taken off my shoes. I had to walk in my bare feet, on glass and debris, collecting our auto contents.
    Even 12 years later, I still tell friends, when they are driving or riding, to always wear their shoes in the car.
    Switching gears, Id like to share a similar story about a family friend, James.
    It was a normal Sunday for James. James, with his mom Marsha and dad Robert had just finished eating dinner. Sundays brought church first, dinner second, and relaxation, third.
    It was a quiet peaceful time, like all Sundays at their home. Then, all of a sudden the tornado whistle blew.
    This was nothing surprising, or concerning, in their town of Joplin. The tornado whistle sounded frequently.
    However, something felt different, so James looked outside.
    I think it was the way the trees were swaying, James said. Because of the high winds, some of the trees had already lost their leaves.
    At that moment, James said they felt prompted to protect themselves. They grabbed their cells and flashlights and ran toward the bathroom, the only inside room in their house.
    Within about 10 seconds, the noises began. Outside the bathroom door, they heard breaking glass, a ferocious growling wind, loud banging against the sides of the house, and a shrill buzzing. As James began to open the door, he said, they heard what sounded like a thunderous train in their living room.
    They waited.
    After a few minutes, they did have the courage to open the bathroom door and looked outside. There was water everywhere, either from the rain or perhaps, broken pipes. The windows were shattered. Furniture was wet and covered with insulation, mud, and leaves. Their cars were dented and the car windows were broken.
    At that point, James stated, We knew, it was a tornado.
    I cant imagine the terror, or the damage.
    That night, with the power out, James family knew they could not leave the house unattended. Normally, burglary is sad consequence, after a tornado. Therefore, James and his mom stayed the night with an elderly neighbor who was afraid to stay alone.
    Dad stayed in the house to protect anything which was salvageable
    James family was fortunate to have had insurance. However, they lost their home, all of their belongings, and four cars. The resulting work after the storm, digging through a lifetime of personal items was an arduous process.
    Page 2 of 2 - Tomorrow, May 22, it will be two years since the Joplin tragedy.
    I asked James about his feelings since the tornado. He stated, It was definitely the scariest and the worst experience I have ever had.
    I also asked James, who is a nurse who sees all types of accidents and injuries, if there is anything, just a simple suggestion to prepare for such a disaster.
    He quickly responded, Keep your shoes on. Otherwise you are walking through the debris in bare feet.
    Car accidents and tornadoes are devastating. However, this is one easy suggestion from James family and ours.
    Always, no matter where you are, in your car, at work, or at home . . . at all times, keep your shoes on.
     
    Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at jacksoncountyfamilyweek@yahoo.com or visit   www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.
     
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