As Hoosiers take shelter from COVID-19, it’s also important to prepare for other threats that visit our communities each spring in the form of flooding and tornadoes. Dealing with severe weather disasters is challenging in the best of times, but with healthcare workers and first responders stretched thin, appropriate planning takes on new importance today.
Yes, spring is here, and for the Midwest, that means a higher risk of floods and tornados. Forecasting from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center calls for “above-average precipitation in the central and eastern United States.” And while this year may not match the historic 2019 floods, significant rainfall events could still trigger flood conditions and put people and communities at risk.
Tornados are also a threat to the Hoosier state, and spring is prime tornado season. In 2017, 220 people needed emergency shelter from a very destructive tornado in Kokomo, requiring massive response and recovery operations. And recently, at the end of March, two EF-2 tornadoes hit Newburgh, Ind., and required some 3,000 people to respond—while keeping appropriate social distance—to a disaster that still has that community reeling.
While community preparedness is always essential, this spring we need to think about it in the context of a pandemic. Response and recovery would take longer and be much more complicated than usual. Supply lines may not be functioning; hospitals may be overflowing and underequipped; and medical professionals may be swamped. Loss of income during this economic downturn creates additional stresses, especially for families who may be vulnerable to the sudden financial impact of a damaging weather event.