ROCKWELL, Iowa - Even though it may not feel like it outside, it is offically spring, and that means severe weather season is fast approaching. But does your community have a strong emergency plan in place?
Stevie Rockwell is the manager of Otto's Oasis in Mason City. She's lived through a few tornadoes, and is a supporter of a strong community disaster plan.
"When you're in a small town, especially when you're getting hit by your first tornado, and you're alone, it gets scary when you don't know what to do or where to go," Rockwell says.
That's why Rockwell city personnel, along with business owners, utility companies and those at the county level, held this table-top exercise to discuss a plan for Rockwell.
Cerro Gordo County Emergency Management Coordinator Steven O'Neil has planned both tabletop exercises and hands-on drills for various communities in the county and across the state, and says they're all part of training in the event of the real thing.
"It's part of the emergency management program. You write plans, you do training on them, and then you do an exercise, you put them all together and see what happens. From that, what do we need to fix, what do we need to add, what do we need to change", O'Neil says.
Participants were tasked with re- enacting what would happen during an EF4 tornado moving through town...and left behind massive devastation. Everything from warning residents ahead of time, to response to recovery.
Regardless of the population of the affected area, from rural to urban, Rockwell says that all towns should network with nearby communities to get life back in order after a disaster.
"It takes a lot of people to rebuild. one small town if they get wiped out, they're not gonna be able to do it on their own. to be connected with all the surrounding areas would be good," Rockwell adds.