What’s your tornado plan? Statewide drill to be held in April.

March 10, 2015

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief.

What would you do if a tornado struck near your home or workplace? Do you have a plan? Does your boss have a plan? What about your family? Is there a communication plan in place to make sure everyone is safe?

These are questions that Mason County Emergency Management coordinator Liz Reimink is hoping get discussed on Thursday, April 16 during a statewide tornado drill. The drill begins at 2 p.m. when the National Weather Service will issue a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. For the next five minutes, businesses, residents, schools and government buildings are being asked to voluntarily observe a tornado drill. Following the drill, a discussion is encouraged.

“We hoping that emergency plans will be discussed and implemented,” Reimink said, adding that her office will soon be issuing information to businesses that wish to participate. “What happens when a business has customers in the store and a tornado warning is issued?” she asked. “Where do people go?” These are questions she is hoping get discussed.

Reimink said she encourages people to know where safe shelters are located in their communities and places they frequent often.

“This is something we engrain into our children when they go to school, but as adults it’s something we don’t seem to be as conscious of. We just want people to be more aware of what to do in any type of severe weather.”

Though the drill is for tornados, this area has recently faced other wind and rain related weather incidences that were just as severe. Last April, a rare micro downburst struck Riverton and Summit townships. The storm resulted from cold air coming across Lake Michigan hitting warm air and dry spots in the atmosphere. The result was a super acceleration of wind that struck the shoreline and impacted areas 10 miles inland.

In 2008, a tornado landed in Grant Township. The weather pattern caused several inches of rain to fall within a short period of time which resulted in flooding of the Lincoln and Sable rivers and their watersheds. In the late 1990s, straight line winds came across Lake Michigan knocking a path of destruction in several parts of Mason County. And, in 1986 severe flooding caused so much damage south of U.S. 10 that a bridge on the U.S. 31 expressway across the Pentwater River collapsed.

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