SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — May 22, 2011  was a somewhat common spring day in southern Missouri. It was going to be an active day for weather with a potential for severe storms and meteorologists were on alert.. but even they weren’t expecting the day to end in devastation.

“What we knew was the atmosphere was extremely unstable,” said Steve Runnels from the National Weather Service. “There was going to be very strong updrafts and we knew there was going to be some degree of rotation within the environment but we were not anticipating a strong or violent tornado.”

Worst fears became a reality as homes were leveled and lives were lost.  It was after people saw the devastation that they took action.

Britton Semor, with F-5 Storm Shelters told us, “unfortunately, most people don’t think about getting a storm shelter until after there has been a major event like Joplin, Moore,Tuscaloosa, Alabama, those kind of major EF-5 tornadoes,  It really gets people thinking about the damage involved and unfortunately the casualties involved.”

If you live in a regular home, the safest place to be during a tornado is the lowest level of your home or an interior room with now windows. If you live in a mobile home, you must evacuate it and find the nearest storm shelter. But you must have a plan in place so you know exactly where that storm shelter is before the storm strikes.

“Do you know where to go if you live in a mobile home, if you live in an apartment complex, do you know your neighbors at the lowest level. Ultimately everyone has to know where to go in advance and then be willing to go there,” added Runnels.

The first part of knowing what to do in case of a tornado is making a plan.

Darwin Boston, with the American Red Cross said, “again nobody expects to be in a tornado so we need A plan just in case. So we know where to go, where everybody is, make that plan so if it hits we know where to meet inside the house, know where we’re going to meet outside the house, so just in case something happens and then, when it does, you’ll feel confident that we’ve got what we need, we know where everybody is and that will helping with the whole traumatic part.”

No one can control mother nature, but what  you can control is you and your family’s response in an emergency.

Runnels said,“I think what Joplin taught us is that we not only need to be knowledgeable about those hazards but we have to be willing to respond to those threats because we know now what mother nature can do.”

If you and your family would like to make a safety plan, click here.