Tornado Accident and Property Damage Attorney
As a form of natural disaster, tornadoes have occurred throughout the years, and deadly tornadoes have been recorded in history as early as May 1840 when a tornado struck the town of Natchez, Mississippi killing 317 people. Other tornadoes that rank among the deadliest have destroyed towns in Missouri, Illinois, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan and Wisconsin. In 2013 alone we saw tornadoes rip through small towns and elementary schools, leaving those in Oklahoma and Texas devastated beyond anything they had experienced, and families of schoolchildren left wondering why such a natural disaster chose a school to do some of its worst damage. Many of us recall the tornado in Joplin, Missouri in May 2011 that killed 158 people and left many more with life-changing injuries. In an unusual occurrence, the Joplin tornado was on the ground for more than 22 miles and packed winds in excess of 200 miles per hour. The United States has an average of 1,000 reported tornadoes annually—and those are just the ones that are reported. Many smaller tornadoes happen but are not reported. What makes up a tornado and why do they occur?
The Definition and Causes of Tornadoes
Tornadoes are classified as violent windstorms that are formed under funnel clouds, rotating a column of air from the thunderstorm to the ground. The rotating air is so rapid that, at times, can propel a tornado to travel with a speed in excess of 300 miles per hour. To put it in perspective, that amount of speed is faster than a bullet train. The distinction between a general funnel cloud and a tornado is that the tornado evidences contact with the ground and the cloud base at the same time so that it appears to be one unit from the ground to the top of the clouds. That is what forms the concept that we know when we see tornadoes in movies and on YouTube video clips. With a force of strength unthinkable to man, tornadoes have been known to lift and throw animals and humans in the air, as well as mobile homes, cars and anything else in their paths.
Residents living in Tornado Alley (the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa, and parts of Colorado and Missouri) are familiar with tornado patterns, and are often faced with readying their homes for evacuations that tend to occur in the spring or early summer. Tornadoes have been known to travel in groups; areas already affected could soon be affected again in coming days. In fact, within just a few short days, multiple tornadoes could hit a given area. Many tornadoes last less than ten minutes, although they can be as short as several seconds to over an hour. Even the smallest and quickest tornadoes can do damage and should never be considered insignificant. Any tornado can kill people and destroy items at any time. Your neighbor’s home could have remained virtually untouched, while yours was flattened to the ground.
With extremely loud sounds that have been likened to a roaring train engine or a continual rumble, residents who need protection can often hear what looms ahead without enough time to gather their belongings or take proper shelter. As a reliable source, the National Weather Service issues forecasts nationwide when they know about an impending tornado. Other sources have been known to “storm chase” and provide weather forecasts to anyone following these notices. If you receive a warning from the National Weather Service, the tornado has been deemed serious enough for a warning to take place. Many of us are familiar with the Doppler Radar, which helps determine forecasting for warnings, as well.
How to Protect Yourself From a Tornado
The very first piece of advice for protecting yourself from the path and destruction of a tornado is to listen to and obey all warnings issued for your area by the National Weather Service. Take all measures to do what needs to be done to protect yourself, no matter how low of a level of damage you think you might receive. You should never ignore the warnings you receive that may affect your area, and always be prepared to seek shelter in a safe structure. In the past, we were told to open windows to create a path of air for the tornado. This was said to be more effective than keeping the windows closed, which could cause the structure to implode. Now, even that warning is considered ineffective—window glass will break whether you keep the windows open or not, and any flying broken glass can cause injury. Equally as ineffective is the often-used advice of seeking shelter under a bridge or in a vehicle. Your vehicle should not be used for shelter, unless you are confident of your success for driving out of the path of the tornado. If you live in an area susceptible to tornadoes your best course of action is to take shelter in a “safe room,” a room specifically built in the home with the purpose of withstanding the destruction of a tornado, complete with concrete or steel walls and often located in a basement.
If you are unable to safely drive away from the path of the tornado, or do not have a safe room in your home, you can take cover under a table, in a bathtub or in a storm cellar. Keep a working, portable radio handy or have a backup battery source for your cell phone. Cover your head and face with a jacket or blanket, or use a mattress if one is handy.
Legal Personal Injury Assistance for Tornado Property Damage Victims and Their Families
If you, a friend or a loved one has been injured or negatively affected by property damage resulting from a tornado, you are encouraged to fill out the Tornado Property Damage Case Evaluation Form so that we can assess your case and assist you with finding solutions and seeking compensation. Without any obligation we can assess your needs, and inform you of your legal options when it comes to personal injury, property damage and insurance claims.
Tornadoes are devastating to all their paths, from destruction of homes, families and personal property, including special mementos and family memorabilia. They leave victims without water or electricity, and the recovery of health, personal items and assets is not a task that should be done alone. Your information will be reviewed confidentially and discretely. Finz & Finz, P.C., can be reached toll free at (855) TOP-FIRM, and are here to assist you when you are ready.