Once a tornado strikes and damage has occurred, the reaction of emergency personnel is vital. WIU Emergency Management Assistant Professor Jack Rozdilsky has done extensive research on how to improve response and recovery to tornado disasters. He has studied the aftermath of the Harrisburg (IL) 2012 EF-4 tornado disaster, and his recent efforts focus on the Washington (IL) November 2013 tornado.
“In the aftermath of a tornado disaster, it is important to remember safety first,” Rozdilsky said. “While in the first hours after the storm, response capacity may be overwhelmed, it is typical that both first responders and emergency management authorities will organize a response focusing on immediate life safety with search and rescue efforts. Simultaneously, sites will be established for sheltering and for provision of basic services for those persons immediately impacted.”
Throughout the Spring 2014 semester, Rozdilsky and his students have worked with Washington city government officials and businesses to develop a long-term plan for economic recovery in that city. The class made several trips to the damaged regions to assess opportunities and threats in disaster recovery.
Rozdilsky recommends that residents who live in areas susceptible to tornadoes get a NOAA weather radio.
“Such a device can provide an alarm with an audible warning concerning significant severe weather,” he said. “While many cities have tornado sirens, these are outdoor warning systems, which may or may not be able to be heard indoors and a weather radio solves that problem.”
For more information on the Washington project, visit wiu.edu/coehs/health_sciences/undergraduate_programs/em/02-2_cevent-2_03-24-14.php.