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Patty Leon: Be prepared for anything
Patty Leon new

Mother Nature is drunk. One minute the weather is 80 degrees, and the next minute the winds are howling and the temp is 40 with a windchill of 35 — all in the same day, mind you.

These days, you need to leave the house dressed in layers and adjust accordingly. While you’re at it, pack your umbrella or rain coat (or both) and your snow gear because she seems to be confused about whether to smack you with a thunderstorm or snow. The weather is sometimes unpredictable, and Mother Nature is a force.

I am still in shock at the destruction in certain areas of Bryan County that were hit by what some meteorologists think may have been an EF4 tornado on April 5.

I looked it up (thanks, Google): An EF4 tornado is the second-strongest tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with wind speeds between 166 and 200 mph. Damage from an EF4 tornado is described as devastating.

It’s incredible that more people were not killed, and I am thankful for that. According to several climate change scientists, things are only going to get worse before they get better. Whether you believe the extreme weather patterns we’ve been experiencing lately are caused by climate change due to our harming the planet, or whether you believe we are just in a climate adjustment period that will soon end, we are clearly in a bad weather pattern. Hotter summers, the melting of glaciers, longer tornado seasons, larger hurricanes and cyclones — it’s coming.

I’ve written previously on tornadoes, mentioning that some scientists are noticing a pattern that is shifting what they term “tornado alley” more toward the South and East to include Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. As if to prove her point, the storm Mother Nature pushed our way April 5 caused 30 tornadoes across Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. And we tend to forget just how powerful tornado winds, rushing water, hail, snow whiteouts and other extreme weather are. I think it may be in the best interest of these new tornado areas to look into updating their building codes. When hurricanes kept crushing entire communities almost every year in Florida, the state started changing construction standards.

Houses built after Hurricane Andrew (1992) in the state had to be constructed from cylinder blocks with reinforced rebar every two feet, windows needed to be up to certain hurricane standards, and the contractors’ licenses were constantly checked to ensure they were up to code. It didn’t mean the newer- built homes would always beat a hurricane, but they stood a better chance — and many have in recent years.

Drive around the county; what you’ll see is a lot of new homes being built. The exterior might be brick or vinyl siding, but they are wood-frame homes. Wood frames don’t stand a chance against much of what Mother Nature will throw. Look at the video of the destruction: piles of WOOD, from the frames, shingles from the roof or no trace of a home at all except for the CONCRETE foundation.

Once the wind breeches the wood framing between the roof and walls, it is over!

We should also listen to what weather experts are saying and not poopoo it because you don’t believe in the climate crisis. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think we are in a crisis; if the weatherman on your local news station is telling you to duck for cover because a tornado is headed your way, TAKE COVER!

Staying alive is much more important than standing by your window (which is the last place to be when a tornado is headed toward you) and trying to go viral on Tik-Tok!

When I worked for the American Red Cross, we always talked about staying prepared, especially for hurricane season. But these days, it is best to always keep a disaster kit ready, 24/7/365, for storms, wildfires, flashfloods, a nuke from Russia and just about anything else. I am not saying go all DOOMSDAY prepper, but maybe just a little bit so you are ready for whatever the heck the world throws our way.

These days, you just never know.

Patty Leon is the senior editor of the Courier who not only has a disaster kit but also a paranormal kit, because the Devil keeps trying to get us all. Oh, Lordy!

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