Being Ready for the Worst

March may come in like a lion and go out like a lamb, but with that extra spring sunshine comes some extra risk. With the warmer weather comes severe thunderstorms and the consequences that go along with them – hail, strong winds, flash floods, lightning and tornadoes. The state of Illinois took a step this week to get prepared for these storms with a statewide tornado drill on Tuesday at 10 am.

Sirens wailed, and City of Naperville employees shuffled down the stairs and into the basement of the Municipal Center, readying themselves just like it was the real thing. For Naperville’s Emergency Management Coordinator J

Joe Henderson, the timing couldn’t have been better for the drill.
“This is a perfect opportunity to do a drill like this,” said Henderson. “We’re just starting to get into the severe storm season so this was a really good reminder that tornadoes can happen and we need to be prepared.” For city employees, the drill went smoothly except for a few employees using the wrong staircase.

Henderson said he’d rather that happen during the drill rather than during an actual severe storm. The National Weather Service in Romeoville is where it all starts for Naperville and Chicago-area weather warnings and advisories.

Experts say one of the biggest misconceptions about severe weather is people think it won’t happen to them. Even though the twisters get all the hype, for the crew of meteorologists in Romeoville, there’s more to it than tornadoes. “More people die from lightning and flash flooding,” said Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jim Allsopp.

“Flash flooding is actually the number one storm-related killer of people in the country . . . We need to be aware of those hazards as well.” And that’s why getting prepared with an event like Tuesday’s tornado drill is so important, even if it may seem mundane and boring.

For people like Joe Henderson, anything to get the city readier for when that big storm hits. “When the citizens are prepared, it makes public safety’s job a lot easier,” said Henderson.

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