ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Southwest Virginia has already seen severe weather to kick off spring, including a tornado in Carroll County, which is why WFXR News spoke with some emergency response experts about how to stay one step ahead of a storm.
Since this is the season for severe weather, being prepared for natural disasters such as thunderstorms, flooding, and tornados — which are not very common in the region, but can still cause major damage — is crucial.
Officials say the first step is to be aware of the weather and have some type of severe weather warning system, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio or apps on your phone.
Jonathan McNamara, communications director at the American Red Cross, says the American Red Cross app can actually be set to wake you up when there are signs of weather trouble.
“Weather is very unpredictable. That’s why, first of all, knowing what your threat is in your area is really one of the first steps,” explained McNamara.
According to Deputy Chief David Guynn with Roanoke Fire-EMS, tornados are rare, but not out of the question. However, most areas need to look out for flooding and flash flooding.
“Generally, those are areas along the Roanoke River. There is some areas along some of the major tributaries of the Roanoke River, which also have flooding. We occasionally have flash flooding downtown,” Guynn said.
If you live in an at-risk neighborhood for flooding, you can check the City of Roanoke’s website for advice on emergency preparation.
In addition, Guynn says most home insurance packages don’t include flood insurance, so if you are in a flood danger zone, you might want to look into that.
Both the American Red Cross and Roanoke Fire-EMS stress the importance of having an emergency kit ready before a storm hits.
“Also making sure, once again, you’re personalizing them to your family, so if you need any medications you, your family members, or your pet need, having an extra supply of those on hand,” said McNamara.
Guynn says the kit should have enough to sustain you and your family including pets, for three days. In addition to basic necessities like food and water, that kit should contain copies of important documents, medications, and backup batteries.
“What we’ve seen time and time again is that families that take steps to prepare find themselves in better situations than families that don’t,” McNamara said.
For a list of emergency supplies and instructions on how to build your emergency kit, check out the Ready.gov website.