Tornado tips issued after twister strikes Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas, Friday June 01, 2012 – An assessment team led by Captain Stephen Russell, Director of the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), has concluded an inspection of damage wrought by the tornado which struck the area last Thursday.
An official statement said that the team discovered that four properties were “clearly impacted” by the severe weather system, which passed through the islands of Bimini, Grand Bahama, Abaco and adjacent waters.

The Meteorological Department had issued advanced warning of a thunderstorm, which could cause strong gusty winds, lightning, heavy downpours and possible tornadic activity. Unlike hurricanes, tornadoes are virtually impossible to predict with any degree of accuracy.

The statement indicated that 12 people had to be temporarily relocated after their triplex sustained structural damage. Several other commercial and residential properties were impacted and a downed utility pole resulted in a temporary power outage. 
Production at the Abaco Block and Concrete Company was compromised due to damage to its building, equipment and vehicles. The manager said that it could take at least three weeks to be back in operation.  
The assessment team also noted a jeep tangled in heavy duty power lines and a 4 000-gallon fuel tank that had been tossed about 500 feet away from its original location.
“We are thankful to God that there were no fatalities or injuries during the passage of that severe weather system,” Captain Russell said.
The NEMA director went on to issue the following tornado safety tips:
•    Look and listen for large hailstones, heavy rain, strong winds, frequent intense lightning bolts with rotary motion at the base of a thunderstorm cloud with loud roaring sounds like jet or train.
•    Seek safe shelter:  A basement is best, otherwise choose ground floor centre rooms surrounded by other rooms. Never choose upstairs because tornadic winds and speeds increase with height above the ground.
•    Choose rooms on the north and east sides of your shelter if no interior rooms are available. Stay near the innermost walls. Avoid rooms on the south and west because tornadoes usually travel from southwest to northeast.
•    Choose a small closet or bathroom because small rooms are less susceptible to collapse. Take shelter within the bathtub if there are no glass tub enclosures or large mirrors nearby.

Other recommended precautions included:
Protect yourself and families by staying calm, seek shelter immediately, keep a portable TV/radio and flashlight in your shelter, wear shoes to protect your feet from broken glass and other debris left in the wake of the storm, protect head and chest by crouching face to floor with hands behind your head, cover yourself with blankets, pillows or coats, hide under sturdy furniture and avoid candles, gas lanterns and oil lamps.
At school or in an office, seek designated shelter in the interior rooms or hallways on the ground floor or lowest floor possible. Avoid auditoriums and gymnasiums.
In shopping malls, seek smaller interior shops on the ground floor and avoid large open rooms as well as the south and west walls.

Evacuate mobile vehicles and seek shelter in a substantial structure, ditch or culvert. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)