Tornado Series: Survivors take new precautions at their homesPublished 9:44am Friday, June 17, 2011
Jill Jensen, staff writer
Patricia Gjersvik’s designated safe room was filled with more than 100 glass jars when the tornado hit one year ago today.
Gjersvik, 73, said she and her husband, Frank, were debating whether to go into the basement room, which also happened to be a safety hazard, when the tornado struck their farm.
Though the house suffered only minor damage, she said she removed all the jars of canned fruit from the room in order to avoid a mishap like last year.
“We weren’t very well-prepared,” she said. “It was a good lesson.”
In anticipation of this summer’s tornados, Gjersvik is one of several victims of last year’s string of tornados who have taken safety precautions in the home.
In the event of a tornado, people should go to their basement or designated safe room, said Jeanie Opdahl, the director of the Freeborn County chapter of the American Red Cross.
She said every family needs to have a plan to take cover in a closet or room, which should be without windows and in the basement. If someone is outside, they should go to the lowest place possible, like a ditch, and cover their head.
They should also keep a kit of emergency supplies like water and games to entertain small children there, she said.
Opdahl said it’s imperative that everyone is alert — listening to the radio or television. She said everyone needs to take cover and stay there.
“Be sure that you heed the warning and take cover when the sirens go off,” Opdahl said. “Don’t stand outside and watch it.”
Last year, every building except for the house and turkey barn was “erased” from the property in the tornado, said Bob Wayne.
Wayne, 64, said while he cannot prevent any future damage from occurring to his property, he did learn one thing after taking cover in the corner of his basement during the tornado.
“Make sure you wear clothes and shoes,” Wayne said. “When you come outside after a tornado, it’s a mess. You better be wearing something on your feet.”
But, he said, no one can be totally prepared for a tornado.
“We went to a safe place in the basement and I suspect that’s where we’d go again,” Wayne said. “We didn’t build a vault or anything.”