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Deadly tornado struck five years ago today

Thursday, April 28, marks the five-year anniversary of a severe EF3 tornado that swept through Lamar, Pike, Monroe and Butts counties.   The storm, which generated winds in excess of 140 mph, touched down at 12:38 a.m. along Hwy. 19 about four miles south of Meansville in south Central Pike County before lifting in southeast Butts County at 1:02 a.m. When the storm cleared, two were dead. Numerous homes businesses and other structures were damaged. Be prepared for the next storm by following these tips from GEMA and Homeland Security.     Before a tornado: ‘¢ A storm can strike suddenly and it may occur when family members are in different places, so develop a family communications plan. ‘¢ Make a Ready kit for at least three days of self-sufficiency. Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a tornado hazard. ‘¢ A tornado watch means weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes to develop. ‘¢ A tornado warning means either a tornado is occurring or expected to develop shortly in your area,  and you need to take shelter immediately. ‘¢ Determine in advance where you will take shelter in case of a tornado warning. Storm cellars or basements provide the best protection. If underground shelter is not available, an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible in the best option. In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible. ‘¢ Consider building a safe room. You can find plans for building or reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website. ‘¢ Contact your local emergency management agency to learn how your community sends warnings. Some communities use sirens, others use a mass notification system and still others depend on media to alert residents to severe storms. Make sure you have multiple ways to receive warnings. ‘¢ Monitor Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or download the Ready Georgia mobile app for the latest information. In any emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials. ‘¢ Be alert to changing weather conditions. Look for approaching storms.   When a tornado watch is issued: ‘¢ Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for the latest weather forecasts or download the Ready Georgia app. ‘¢ Be alert to changing weather conditions. Blowing debris or the sound of an approaching tornado may alert you. Many people say it sounds like a freight train. ‘¢ Make sure you know where you would seek shelter if a tornado warning was issued. ‘¢ If you are in a mobile home, consider moving to a sturdy building (shelter). If a tornado warning is issued, you will not have much time to act.   When a tornado warning is issued: ‘¢ If you are inside, put on sturdy shoes and go to a safe place and protect yourself from glass and other flying objects. ‘¢ If you are outside, hurry to a safe place in a nearby sturdy building. ‘¢ If you are in a car and you see large objects flying past while you are driving, pull over and park. You now have two choices: Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows, covering with your hands and a blanket if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, in a deep ditch for instance, exit your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. ‘¢If you live in an apartment that is on an upper floor, get to the lowest level of the building.   After a tornado: ‘¢ Local authorities may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should listen to NOAA Weather Radio, watch TV, listen to the radio or check often for official news and instructions as they become available. ‘¢ Remain out of damaged buildings and stay clear of downed power lines. Report downed lines to your local power company. ‘¢ If you are trained, help injured or trapped people. Check on others who may require special assistance, such as the elderly, children and people with disabilities.

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