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Posted 6/28/16 (Tue)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

If the past two weeks are any indication, McKenzie County could be in for a rough time when it comes to severe weather this summer. In the past two weeks, the county has been hit with back-to-back storms that have produced high winds, hail, and tornados. Fortunately, other than some minor hail and wind damage, the county has been spared any significant damage.
But the question on many residents’ minds, especially those citizens who live in mobile homes, recreational vehicles, or apartments is “where do we go when a major storm hits?”
While it would be nice if there were several designated storm shelters across McKenzie County, there is currently only one approved shelter, which is the Watford City Civic Center. And that poses a big problem for the rest of the county’s residents.
While the instances of a tornado touching down in populated areas of McKenzie County has been relatively rare, it can and has happened. Most recently, two years ago on Memorial Day, a tornado did slash through an RV Park south of Watford City. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, but the damage to recreational vehicles was significant.
And last week, tornado sightings in the Fairview, Arnegard and Johnson Corners areas once again bore witness that severe summer storms do occur in McKenzie County. And these storms cannot be taken lightly.
In the event of a tornado, or other severe storm, and you are not able to get to an approved shelter, here are some tips that you can follow.
1. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or a pre-designated shelter. Go to the lowest level of the building, preferably in a basement, and get under a heavy desk or workbench or sit next to the wall and cover your head with your arms/hands.
2. If an underground shelter is not available, move to an interior room/hallway - put as many walls between you and the outside of the building as you can, and stay away from windows. Other possibilities are to get into a bathtub or under a bed or sofa.
3. Get out of vehicles and do not try to outrun a tornado. You can easily be tossed around.
4. If caught outside, lie flat on the ground and cover your head with your hands.
Remember, in tornado situations debris likes to settle in roadside ditches or other low spots. If heavy rains are falling in the area, ditches and low spots may quickly flood. Therefore, laying down in a ditch may not be your best choice.
5. Be aware of flying debris. Most deaths and injuries are caused by flying debris.
6. Manufactured homes (mobile trailers) offer little protection, even if tied down. Leave these for a sturdy shelter before the storm approaches.