EDITORIAL: Moore tornado underscores need for precaution, prayers

May. 24, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Those of us in Central Carolina who remember the aftermath of the April 2011 tornado have felt much empathy for the folks in Moore, Okla., this week.

The EF-3 tornado made a disastrous 13-mile trek through Lee County, with winds reaching an estimated 160 mph and the storm itself measuring about three-tenths of a mile wide.

Now consider the force of Oklahoma's EF-5 tornado with winds of at least 200 mph, with a disaster zone that, according to the Associated Press, stretches more than 17 miles. At least 24 people died, with 12,000 to 13,000 homes reportedly affected.

Our area received much-needed help from a variety of resources, and we're sure that the folks in Oklahoma will likewise receive a flood of assistance. Those who would like to help can do so by donating through the American Red Cross or to the Salvation Army — among other organizations.

The lives of the Oklahomans touched by the tornado have been turned upside down. Financial assistance aside, these folks need our prayers as they navigate through a daunting recovery.

Unfortunately, the threat of tornadoes will always be present. Moore, Okla., had been hit by a previous tornado, and we hope that Central Carolina will not sustain another blow. In any event, people should take necessary precautions when it comes to the possibility of tornadic activity. Here are some tornado safety tips, provided by the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety:

Go to the lowest level and inner rooms:

• During a tornado threat, the safest place to be is underground in a basement or storm cellar.

• If you have no basement, go to an inner hallway or smaller inner room without windows, such as a bathroom or closet.

• Do not open or close windows. Stay away from them.

• Stay away from skylights and large open areas.

• Stay out of gymnasiums, auditoriums and other rooms with a large expanse of roof.

• Try to find something sturdy you can get under to protect yourself from flying debris or a collapsed roof.

• Crouch on the floor in the egg position.

• Use your arms to protect your head and neck.

If you are outside:

• Lie on the ground, in a ditch or depression if possible.

• Use your arms to protect your head and neck and wait for the storm to pass.

• While waiting, be alert for the flash floods that sometimes accompany tornadoes.

• Do not try to outrun a tornado in a car. A tornado can toss cars and trucks around like toys.

• If you see a funnel cloud or hear a tornado warning issued, get out of your vehicle and find safe shelter immediately.

We offer our condolences to those in Moore who have lost homes, loved ones and livelihoods. Perhaps the most valuable aid we in Lee County can offer is hope — and the assurance that better days are ahead.