In 2005 I experienced one of the worst disasters ever in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina. I never thought I would ever see the likes of that again, until 4/27/2011. The South experienced the worst storm system in the past 20 years with over 200 tornadoes documented, the most in recorded history from a single storm system. Here in Tennessee and North Georgia we lost power for days and some are still without power as I write this. An entire town was obliterated and a co-worker was taken from us along with his entire family when an F4 tornado struck his home in Ringgold, GA.

If you have ever been through a disaster of this magnitude, you know how people can come together and help one another. I wanted to share some disaster preparedness tips on how to get through a time like this and ways to prepare if you should face it yourself.

Follow Directions: Always, and I mean always, listen to and comply with the instructions given from local authorities. If it is recommended that you take shelter, then do so immediately.

Own a Battery Powered Radio: You should always have a battery powered radio available. Wind up radios are now available that do not require batteries. Wind up and battery powered flashlights are also a must. Candles are great, but they do create a fire risk. In a time of disaster the fire department may not be able to get to you as quickly if you accidentally start a fire!

Store Canned Food: Always keep canned foods that you can open and eat available both in the home and in your vehicle. Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) are available at your local Army/Navy Store and have a very long shelf life.

Avoid Windows and Doors: If a tornado is in your area, stay away from the windows and doors. Seek shelter in an internal room or basement if you have one. The provisions mentioned above should be stored in these areas.

Wait for All-clear: After the danger passes, do not immediately go outside; wait for the local authorities to look at the damage and make sure it is safe. It is likely that there will be live power lines on the ground, unstable trees, debris, and other hazards.

These are only a few tips that I could think of off the top of my head. After the storm you will find that neighbors and community come together and provide what you need. Food, water, clothing, a place to shelter, shower, and even laundry services have been set up near me. If you can, volunteer services in your skill set. This may be taking your chain saw and helping to remove trees or creating a Web site like a local developer did here to help get those lost in touch with family and friends. Keeping busy will help pass the time and keep your mind occupied until things can settle down.