Preparing Yourself and Your Home for Possible Disasters

May 18, 2021
by Paulina Robles, Tornado Recovery Coordinator at Rebuilding Together Nashville

My phone buzzed, illuminating the darkened room briefly as it lit up with a warning notification of severe weather, thunderstorms, flashfloods and an upgrade to tornado warning. We didn’t know what was going to actually hit our community, but we felt ready; our go-bags and boots were at the door, phones were charged and we had gone over our evacuation and alternate evacuation plan. With each tornado warning passing there was as quick sense of relief but the cracking of lightening and booming thunder reminded us that the storm wasn’t done yet.

What came were flash floods, cars swept away, homes flooded (some with water levels four feet high) and six people dead. Now, over a month after the overnight flooding of March 27-28 and over a year after the 2020 tornadoes, Nashville’s disaster season is here again. Tornadoes, floods, wildfires, landslides, extreme temperatures.

I grew up in southern California where we regularly experienced earthquakes. As children we went through preparedness drills in school, grew up with emergency go-bags ready at home for the whole family and had an evacuation plan down with everyone knowing where to meet in the event of a disaster. While we were fortunate enough to never have to use ours, we were confident in our plan to reduce risk and maximize our survivability.

Today my go-bag sits ready by the front door of my apartment with essentials like food, water, first aid kit, cell phone chargers and more. There are even already made go-bags to purchase online. Either way, a go-bag is necessary as it’s an emergency kit ready for every member in your household. Rebuilding Together Nashville partnered with the Red Cross to hand out pamphlets to the neighbors we serve with safety and preparation guides. As tornado recovery coordinator, I walk all the tornado recovery program neighbors through the pamphlets.

Do you have a plan in case of a hurricane, wildfire, tornado or whatever else may arrive on your doorstep this season? The era of the mindset of “it will never happen to me,” has passed. Disasters are coming with unprecedented frequency and strength; the seasons are longer, the impact areas are larger and the damage is greater.

During your blue skies months prepare yourself and your home. Educate yourself and your neighbors to look out for one another in case of a disaster. When gray skies inevitably do come, move through the disaster situation with a confidence born of readiness. To leave you with a helpful summary of the importance of preparedness, I would like to paraphrase what Sun Tzu said of great calamity, “sweat more, bleed less.”