Emergency experts say residents also must assume some personal responsibility for watching the weather. Residents should have a plan for how to respond if a tornado strikes. Most counties recommend residents purchase a weather radio and keep an eye on news reports. Meteorologists now have the technology to track powerful storms days in advance and enhanced radar show the signature tunnels of wind that indicate a tornado.
But even the best technology isn’t 100 percent reliable. On March 14, 2008, a tornado hit downtown Atlanta, damaging several buildings including the Georgia Dome, where the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament was being held. What should have been a normal March night in the city turned nightmarish as windows flew out of downtown buildings and countless other structures, landmarks and homes were damaged. One person died and more than two dozen were injured.
“That wasn’t a storm that should have produced a tornado,” said Glenn Burns, chief meteorologist for Channel 2 Action News. “We really didn’t see any indication of a tornado in the cell.”
Joyce Jones and her husband are taking matters into their own hands. They are rebuilding their Gordon County home, which should be finished in May, in the same location. The house will be the same floor plan, with one major addition: A storm pit. The storm pit will be accessed through the living room, and there won’t be a need to cram into a closet the next time there is severe weather.