Tornado reports cause for concern

Tornadoes and reports of them make us nervous. That's because residents in eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle have either experienced the storms' violence or at least seen the debris remnants that immediately show us their horrific power.

AccuWeather.com is warning Americans that today could be ripe for large tornado outbreaks across multiple states from Illinois, Indiana and Ohio to Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.

Meteorologists say they fear today's storms could be more destructive than those earlier this week that killed about a dozen people in Illinois and Missouri.

While New Mexico is not expected to be in the tornadoes' paths today, we remember quite well that we can be twister victims.

A March 23, 2007, tornado severely damaged hundreds of homes and businesses and killed dozens of livestock across Roosevelt, Curry and Quay counties. Two Clovis people died as a result of the storm.

Accuweather.com predicts more tornadoes than average this year due to warmer-than-normal water in the Gulf of Mexico.

So we suggest area residents and business owners need to prepare for the possibility of a disaster down the road by planning today one simple task: Where is the safest place you can go either at home or work if a tornado warning is issued?

Does your church have a basement available to use in case of tornado? Does a neighbor have a storm cellar or tornado shelter? Does your workplace have a plan?

American Medical Response offered these tips in a recent press release:

n If a tornado warning is issued for your area, go to the basement or the lowest level of your home. Take shelter in an inner hallway or small inner room without windows, such as a closet or bathroom.

n In mobile homes and other portable structures, leave the structure even if it is equipped with tie-downs. Take shelter in a building with a strong foundation. If such a building isn't available, take cover in a ditch or low-lying area a safe distance from the mobile home. Lie face down and cover your head and neck with your hands.

n If you are in a vehicle, seek shelter immediately. Do not continue to drive or try to outrun a tornado. Tornadoes can change direction quickly and can easily lift a vehicle into the air. Get out of the vehicle and take shelter in a nearby building or lie in a ditch or low-lying area away from the vehicle.

Tornadoes seldom cause major destruction in eastern New Mexico, but 2007 reminds us it can happen again. Protect yourself and your family and friends. Be ready.

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