Open Phones: Tornadoes

Friday, April 29, 2011

The worst storms in decades ripped through the Southern United States this week. Kirk Johnson, New York Times reporter covering the aftermath, talks about the unpredictability of tornadoes and takes calls from listeners affected by this week's storms. 

Listeners: Do you have ties to Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky or Tennessee? What are you hearing from friends? Does your family have any tornado related stories? Let us know.


Kirk Johnson

Comments [5]


My family in rural East Texas---Davy Crockett National Forest---emailed us about the tornadoes there. My cousin's roof was torn off, and the house was flooded. Everyone and their animals are okay.

Apr. 29 2011 01:04 PM
Liz from Brooklyn/St.Louis

I moved to Brooklyn 25 yrs ago from St. Louis and go back and forth regularly to visit family and friends. I was in St. Louis last week when the tornado struck. A question was asked near the end of today's program as to why there was a difference in the number of deaths and injuries. My take on it is that St. Louis has an outstanding warning system possibly one of the best in the country. There is extensive coverage using the Doplar radar updates on TV and radio, siren warnings, and voice warnings mean a tornado is sited in your area. Everyone in the city and county knows that when that voice warning is heard, it means to take immediate cover in a basement if at all possible because a tornado has been sited in your area. Nearly everyone that was interviewed after the tornado said the same thing-"once we heard the audio/warning, we immediately went to the basement making it just in time." You know there is little time to waste once you hear that audio warning because it is specific to your area. Kudos to St. Louis-lives were saved and serious injuries minimized due to the excellent warning and monitoring system.

Apr. 29 2011 01:02 PM
Ray Skorupa from Pelham NY

Much of the destruction to houses and apartments can be avoided if we were to require a higher standard of construction. In the long run higher standard would be less costly and certainly fewer lives lost and people injured. Let's demand housing that is resistant to tornadoes and hurricanes.

Apr. 29 2011 10:59 AM
rick from UES

If you are in your house is there anything to do that will limit the damage. My father went around the home opening windows in the minutes before a tornado hit my family home during the 1994 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak.

Is this correct? What precautions can be taken at the last minute before seeking cover?

Apr. 29 2011 10:58 AM
Deborah from Greenwich Village

I have family in Tuscaloosa and have been going down there since I was a baby.
My family is very fortunate, only a loss of power. They are shell shocked from the devastation. They all have great community in different forms and I know that will be the salve that will help heal, more than aid or FEMA.
I have read (NY Times comments) about the red states not deserving aid b/c of the Tea Party and Republican viewpoints that are large in number there (but not only there). My cousin said they don't need any help, maybe so.
I suggest, a more civilized discussion of such things. Maybe we should emulate more of a Japanese sensibility of humility and self reliance. This country use to be more like that, more resilient. This is a devastating event, absolutely. Now, how will people respond to what has happened to them. People need help, but we should be able to discuss what is help and what is victimization no matter what 'color' the state.

Apr. 29 2011 10:53 AM

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