POTEAU (KFSM)—Around this time last year, an EF-2 tornado touched down and brought a new awareness to storm safety.
Linda McCormack has a storm shelter that can fit around six people inside comfortably.
“If our neighbors needed to come in we could help that way, and my daughter and grandson could come,” she said. “They live in Poteau also.”
While McCormack’s house survived the tornado, it damaged around 120 homes and businesses in the area. McCormack and her husband bought their storm shelter just a few months before the tornado.
“It told us that we spent our money wisely,” she said. “That it was wise to get something you know that you can feel comfortable in because your homes aren`t always that safe when you do get a tornado.”
Her neighbor Jennifer Bandy was trapped in her storm cellar when a tree fell on top of it. Bandy said she was able to text her family what happened. She said she’s always taken storm warnings seriously.
"I had two family members killed in the 2013 Moore tornado,” she stated. “That increased my respect of weather. My advice to anyone is to listen to weather and warnings and educate yourself and family on spotting storms and making a plan of action in case there is a tornado."
LeFlore County Emergency Manager Michael Davidson said the fact Bandy had a cell phone with her was a good thing, but he emphasizes the importance of having multiple ways of receiving information when severe weather hits.
“We recommend that everybody have a NOAA Weather Radio,” Davidson said. “That's one of the most reliable sources for warnings. During severe weather, our electricity goes out, so our TVs may not work, and the cable could go out, or the cell phone towers can go down, or there can be delays in those systems.”
Davidson said saving backpacks with emergency supplies ready to go are also a good idea. He said to pack them with flashlights, first-aid kits, any medications you may need, food and bottled water.
He said it is also important to have a plan of action: know where you are going to take shelter and map that out before severe weather hits.
There are four tornado safe rooms at Poteau Public Schools located at the elementary school, upper elementary, middle school and high school.
If you come home to find damage at your home, you’re asked to call LeFlore County Emergency management at 918-401-0456.