Although DeKalb County is about 400 miles from the Gulf Coast, and predicted to be bypassed by Hurricane Irma, being prepared for natural disasters is something we should all take seriously, regardless of our geographical location.

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always respected Mother Nature. I’ve never been afraid of storms and I’m still not afraid of them, but the tornadoes of 2011 made me realize how mighty Mother Nature is. Those storms swept through my hometown leaving nothing but wreckage. People lost their homes, their pets, family heirlooms and even loved ones. I lost a family member who died while trying to protect her three children by laying over them in the bathroom of their home. The entire phenomenon was devastating to this area and many continue to suffer from it today. Kids and even adults were traumatized by those storms and now have permanent fears of even the slightest thunderstorms. For me, those storms opened my eyes to the weather’s power. I will never forget going with my dad to help people out of the rubble after the tornado came through. We topping a hill on Highway 117 just past Chestnut Grove Baptist Church and the landscape of an area I had known all my life was completely unrecognizable. Seeing a scene that resembled a warzone was all it took to make me realize what the weather was actually capable of. Now, under Hurricane Irma’s threat, our neighbors in Florida are evacuating their home state. Irma has already left a path of destruction and continues onward. I know Hurricane Irma is not predicted to directly impact Alabama, but we need to be prepared regardless because anything is possible with Mother Nature. In 2011 we had warnings, and even then many barely reached their safe place in the nick of time. So, don’t wait on the warning; be prepared now because you never know what might happen. Although Irma’s current predicted path does not show Alabama as being in harm’s way, we should still be mindful of the weather around us and in our neighboring states. Don’t be like I once was and dismiss the weather. Don’t let seeing a natural disaster be what opens your eyes to the weather’s disastrous possibilities. I know it is cliché, but respect Mother Nature. So don’t prepared for what Irma “might” do, prepare for what she “can” do.

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