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Preparing for tornadoes in southern Colorado

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Apr 29 2014 08:55:49 PM CDT

Twisters are rare here, but is the area prepared to handle an outbreak similar to that in the Midwest and South this week?

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Local emergency planners said they're ready to respond to tornadoes despite the twisters being relatively uncommon here.

On Tuesday, KRDO NewsChannel 13 asked about preparedness after a rash of tornadoes killed at least 12 people and caused damage in the Midwest and South this week.

Ken Hughlett, the emergency management coordinator for Colorado Springs, said the city generally doesn't train specifically for tornadoes but does train for handling mass casualties and managing debris -- the same results that can come from wildfires and floods.

"We're trying to be prepared for all the different types of events out there," Hughlett said.  "But things can change rapidly.  We practice a lot on reacting to those changes."

Mark Mears, bureau chief of Pueblo County's Emergency Service Bureau, said training for tornadoes is part of the county's emergency operations plan.  He also said a new emergency services center, funded by the federal government, will provide a better response to tornadoes.

A Colorado Springs doctor who grew up in Tupelo, Miss., where one of the recent tornadoes hit, is devoting time to help people prepare before and after a tornado.  Dr. James Hubbard has created a website, thesurvivaldoctor.com, and written several books for that purpose.

"My mother was in the (Tupelo) tornado back in the 1930s, which was one of the worst ever," he said.  "I've been through a lot of survival situations and disasters.  I've had good friends who were killed in tornadoes.  It's almost a way of life there."

Hubbard suggests that people go to a basement, to a central section of a home away from windows, and even lie in a bathtub covered by a mattress for protection from a tornado.

He also agrees with experts' advice that people prepare emergency kits with enough supplies and medicine for at least three days, determine which part of the home is safest, and for families to decide on an outside meeting place after the tornado passes.

"You should have an emergency kit at home, in your car and at work," Hubbard said.

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