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Midwest hit by massive April storm, proves need for emergency planning

Towns of all sizes need to have a continuity of operations plan, ensuring residents' safety.
Towns of all sizes need to have a continuity of operations plan, ensuring residents' safety.

April showers might bring May flowers, but this month has unleashed a series of severe storms across the nation. Midwestern states experienced hailstorms, tornadoes and even snow in some areas. When towns have conducted continuity of operations planning, the recovery process after severe weather can be much easier.

In Missouri, one city's municipal airport board was gathered at the local airport when the storm hit. One member saw funnel clouds appear and another saw a pick-up truck pushed along by the wind – without a driver. Wind gusts were reported at 101 miles per hour.

"The city administrator said his ears were popping, then all of a sudden the building shook and the windows shook," board member Larry Cuneio, told the Associated Press. "I'm the street commissioner and I've seen wind do a lot of things, but never anything like this."

The storm was not just relegated to one area of the nation. Alabama and Mississippi were also feeling its effects, as high winds knocked over trees and power lines. The news source reported that about 50 school systems in central and north Alabama sent students home early and some government offices and businesses also closed early.

When strong storm systems like this occur, it is beneficial for towns and cities of all sizes when they have a current continuity of operations plan. While evacuation might not necessarily be a viable option, it is important for residents and business owners to understand their role in an emergency situation.

Tabletop exercises can benefit schools, so students and staff members know where to go to keep themselves safe. Additionally, some companies might want to establish hot sites, in case power outages or road closures prevent employees from working normal hours at the regular office site.

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